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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Columnist: Owusu-Gyamfi, Clifford

Leave the Black Stars Alone and Attack the bureaucrats!

What am I hearing all over the social media? Has the Ghana Football Association (GFA) stolen any money from government for Brazil 2014? Is it on the Black Stars that we’re supposed to pour upon our distress of economic hardships? In fact I’m stressed at this point writing this down but I must ask someone to tell me how much does the Ghana government invest into GFA?

At least we have heard over the years some compromises of GFA funds by the government of Ghana. Even though the Ghana government has no right to temper with GFA funds, it has been a routine that money coming from FIFA and other sources has not exclusively been directed to GFA coffers. In 2006, FIFA gave Ghana $8 million USD for our first World Cup appearance. In 2010, GFA received $11 million USD from FIFA which later on became a tag of war between GFA and the government as the money got into government funds. The eventual result was that the money has been put into the Consolidated Funds to benefit everyone in the country. This called for a warning from FIFA in 2010. Jerome Valcke, the secretary general of FIFA wrote to the Ghana government saying, “… we would like to draw the attention of the government to the fact that the GFA must manage its affairs independently with no influence from third parties as stated in FIFA statutes. Violations of such provisions might lead to sanctions as stated in FIFA Statues Article 17.13.” He said in addition that “The government of Ghana could audit the GFA accounts related to the attribution of government funds. This of course excludes the funds coming from other sources such as FIFA, CAF or corporate sponsors.” But this didn’t change anything. GFA funds are still difficult to assess by its managers.

Ghana FA’s major funding has been coming from FIFA, corporate bodies and other sponsors. The prudence of GFA boosted its relation with FIFA which resulted in heavy funding. In 2012, FIFA released $688,000 USD as GFA’s benefit of the FIFA Goal Project. Beginning our way to Brazil, the Ghana SIC Insurance Company Limited and SIC Life Ghana Limited have already donated GHC 250, 000 to the Black Stars. HFC Bank donated GHC 50, 000. Many other corporate bodies around the country have heavily given to the Black Stars ahead of Brazil 2014. Just this month, the Black Stars have received $25, 000 USD from the Edusei Foundation in Miami, USA. And more donations are coming in each day. What has the government of Ghana given?

Well let me tell you the Kwaku Ananse trick the government has been playing over the GFA in World Cup appearance. In 2010 World cup in South Africa, government made a budget of $19 million USD for the whole tournament. It was revealed that only $9 million USD was spent. Meanwhile, the Black Stars returned home with an amount $11 million from FIFA which went into the coffers of the government. So in principle, the Black Stars gained $2 million USD for their hard work in the 2010 Mundial. In principle the Ghana government lost nothing so why did he refuse to pay their bonuses? I know this year he has budgeted $24 million USD ($5 million difference from 2010) so let’s see how it will go after the tournament.

In fact it’s upsetting when the hard works of individuals who deserve our support and encouragement, risking their lives to make us all proud and to bring money home, and yet we rain insults to cast false insinuations on them simply because someone has failed to execute his duty as a sincere bureaucrat. GFA is raising its own money and the government is playing tricks around it. And what is it about the appearance fee of $75,000 USD? Football salary is not on equal scale with teaching salary as nursing salary is not on equal scale with a medical practitioner. They are in a different world and that’s how things work.

I just want to tell you that whether we go to the World Cup or not, nothing will change. Before Ghana began to appear in the World Cup tournaments what have we been using our money to do? In the past four years after South Africa what have the government of Ghana been doing with his funds? Is it not always chopping and messing up public funds?

The story will always be the same. There will be shortage of chalks. There will be absence of oxygen. The lights will go off. There will be unemployment. And what about the money chopped by the bureaucrats? What about the hospitals and clinics inflating NHIS funds? The back door money collected to secure drivers’ license and passports? And adjustment of electricity meter reading? So where do you expect the government to get funds from to solve the problems? These are the things to address and not to someone excelling in his football career and what we all enjoy as fun. The Black Stars are among the few youths in Ghana who have earned employment in their own hard work. And as I said earlier the Ministry of Sports brings funds into government coffers... even that they can’t assess the funds... so what is the point? Go Black Star! Go Ghana!

Clifford Owusu-Gyamfi, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.