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Opinions of Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Columnist: The Catalyst Newspaper

Who Sabotaged Afriyie-Ankrah?

Many a foul-tasting story has been told about the former Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, regarding Ghana’s disappointing participation at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. These tales bordered on unfounded claims of his contribution to the early exit of the senior national team, the Black Stars, from the world football fiesta, issues regarding the disgusting allegations about so-called immoral atcs coupled with wild allegations of corruption against him.
It is no wonder that his accusers have been unable to convince the Ghanaian public with those bizarre story lines because apparently their loud shouts have been nothing but empty noises.

Systemic failure or sabotage?
The former Sports Minister, on Monday 25th August 2014, told the Presidential Commission of Enquiry probing the entire preparation and organization of Ghana’s bizarre participation at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that he could not rule out the possibility that he was being sabotaged, considering the bizarre turn of events.
It has emerged during sittings of the commission so far that certain key systems and mechanisms put in place to ensure Ghana’s successful participation at the World Cup failed rather strangely and the former Youth and Sports minister said he could not fathom why.
Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, taking his turn at the Commission to prove he did not neglect his duties suggested he felt at some point he was being sabotaged but opted to give some detailed accounts of his suspicion to the Commission in camera due to security implications to the state.
“There are some aspects of this whole drama that does not make sense but we will talk in chambers,” he told the Commission. This was in response to a question posed by a Commissioner, Mr. Moses Foh-Amoani, as to whether he felt sabotaged.
He told the Commission that even though he took responsibility for all that had happened in Brazil in his capacity as minister of youth & sports and head of Ghana’s delegation, he cannot be blamed for the systemic failures because he played his part well-enough to have achieved the expected laurels for Ghana.

Appearance fee
From testimonies of Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah and Bank of Ghana to the Presidential Committee probing Ghana’s participation at the Brazil 2014 World Cup that what some of the information purveyors may have known but have conveniently shied away from, with some others also showing apparent gross ignorance about, is the fact that the delay in payment of the players’ appearance fee, which is said to be the main cause of all the confusion in camp that resulted in the team crashing out of the tournament at the preliminary stage, was not the former youth and sports minister’s fault.
The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has identified the appearance fee commotion in the Black Stars camp as being the main reason for the calamity that befell the team in Brazil, leading to their taking an early shower with only a point in the bag, following a defeat to USA, a draw with Germany and a defeat to Portugal in their three respective matches- their worst performance at three conservative World Cups.
Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah believes, which belief is corroborated by football pundits that there was a very high probability that had the appearance fee been paid in time to the players in keeping with the status quo of Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010 World Cups, the calamity that befell the nation in Brazil would have been averted.
He however told the Commission that the players failed in their professional responsibility by refusing to train for two days ahead of the Portugal match, even though they were paid on the eve of the game, which Ghana lost when Black Stars defender, John Boye scored an own goal that aided Portugal’s 2-1victory over Ghana after kissing the money.

Delay in flying the cash
It has also been placed on record that government had made available $4million dollars in time for the players’ appearance fee to be taken care of. Shockingly however, even as the players continued to agitate in Brazil, the money had remained here in Ghana for several days before being finally flown to Brazil where the players together with some officials gladly took receipt of payment. But the cash came in too late. The damage had already been done so Ghana lost the impending match cheaply to Portugal.
The Catalyst can also reveal that before the cash was flown to Brazil in Ghana’s presidential jet, there were disappointments with two other aircrafts, which were contacted earlier to fly the money, but again under very bizarre circumstances that did not materialise. If that had happened, the players would have received the cash way ahead and the issue of their refusal to train would not have occurred.
It is also on record that the chief accountant and chief director at the Ministry of Youth and Sports were dispatched by the former minister to Ghana on Tuesday 17th June 2014 and were expected to have touched down at the Kotoka International Airport the following day and to return to Brazil with the cash immediately. Somehow, the duo only arrived in Ghana on Friday 20th June and it too two more days for the money to rich Brazil.
This means that even when the players abandoned their earlier agreement with the Kwesi Nyantakyi management committee, of receiving the money into their bank accounts through an electronic payment system by Unibank, and demanded cash payments in Brazil instead, it took an unnecessarily long time for the money to be finally airlifted from Ghana to Brazil.

Unfair attacks

Now that Hon Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah is in the process of revealing the truth from his perspective to the Commission it is becoming embarrassingly disingenuous and unfair regarding how the former Youth and Sports Minister’s detractors succeeded in putting all the blame on him in the media.

Hon. Afriyie-Ankrah has, at the Commission, thrown a challenged to his detractors asking them to come forward and prove their wild claims of corruption against him. Since Thursday when he made the declaration, any of his loud accusers is yet to take up the challenge.
Stay tuned.