I have always wondered why money is always an issue when it comes to the national team, the Black Stars. The players became infamous over happenings in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. I remember the press conference after the tournament back in Ghana where Ghana Football Association President Kwasi Nyantakyi stressed that the team had failed to do well because the players held the nation to ransom over unpaid appearance fees.

At the time, I was asking myself why the players were held totally responsible when the team’s management committee members were also due payments as well.

Just before the 2017 African Nations Cup tournament, I remarked on a WhatsApp platform I belong to that for all we know, the players may not be the ones agitating for bonus increases and the like. I made that remark because I had listened to several interviews in which some of the players kept insisting that they are focused on winning games rather than the money. Almost immediately a very high ranking FA official sent me a private message on WhatsApp telling me not to be deceived by the players whom, according to him, like money very much. It set me thinking and so I began to do some digging. This is what I found out.

During the 2015 Afcon in Equatorial Guinea, a ‘coefficient’ was used to calculate sums of money for payment to interested parties. At the time, the players each received $30000 for qualifying for the quarterfinal. Using the ‘coefficient’ of 7, representing the number of members on the management committee, the $30000 was multiplied by 7, giving us $210000. Out of this amount, 50% went to very high ranking officials at the Ministry of Youth and Sports(MOYS); 25% went to the FA’ s emergency committee and the remaining 25% went to management team members present in Equatorial Guinea as well as other high ranking FA officials. The same process was repeated based on bonuses for the players from the quarterfinal stage through to the final. So in effect, other persons benefitted.

I sighted the proposed 2017 Afcon budget presented to the transition team after the national elections in December. I must stress that at this point nothing had been agreed yet in terms of bonuses for the players. The budget I saw contained proposals to pay the players $8000 each for every group game win; $10000 per player for a quarterfinal win; $12500 for a semi-final win and $15000 for winning the ultimate. In the same budget, proposals were made to pay three management committee members who will be in Gabon plus the two highest ranking officials at MOYS the same match winning bonuses as the players. Also, in the same document, certain officers of the FA and other auxiliary staff would receive fixed amounts for services rendered. So for example, the FA general secretary would receive a fixed sum of $10000 whilst FA deputy general secretary in charge of communications, Ibrahim Sannie Data would be paid a fixed sum of $8000 for acting as the team’s media officer.

Eventually, the new Sports Minister, Hon. Isaac Asiamah met with the management team hierarchy and the management requested for the following: $10000 per player for every group game wins; $12000 for the quarterfinal; $12500 for the semi-final and $15000 for the final. Also, the management team also asked for each player to be paid an appearance fee of $10000. The Minister turned the appearance fee request down and told the management team that there was very little money to spend, as well as public furore over the amounts involved. Eventually an agreement was reached to halve the figures presented by the management team, which was duly announced by the minister.

All this leaves room for several questions. Is it not possible that agitation for match bonuses increases does not necessarily come from the players but could be masterminded by the management committee members who stand to benefit? If Sannie Daara, who has to organise press conferences, media events and interviews as well as send audio recordings of interviews to several media houses in Ghana, will receive $8000 for his work in Gabon, why are the management team members not being paid fixed amounts as well? What work does the management team do for its members to be paid the same bonus as the players? Indeed, why must the Sports Minister and his deputy also receive the same bonuses as the players? With Colts football floundering, women’s football largely neglected and Black Starlets head coach Paa Kwesi Fabin having worked for the best part of two years, why are we spending so much money on the Black Stars with nothing to show for It? I know that people will point to Cameroon players refusing to train over bonuses and still winning the trophy, but one of our issues was that tactically, Avram Grant was not strong enough.

As Henry Fielding says, make money your God and it will plague you like the devil.

By: Christopher Opoku

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