These are interesting times in Ghana football when the big idea is that matches of the Black Stars are to be sold to the highest bidder.
The understanding is that now that it is becoming difficult to fund the Stars, the opportunity should be seized to cede the marketing of the team’s matches to a company at a price.
That is to say that the entire organisation of the matches, the prices and sale of tickets, among others, will be solely handled by the accredited marketing company, and whether losses or profits are made will be the business of the company.
Similar consideration will be given to international friendlies such as the Stars versus Bafana Bafana match in Durban, which trip the Sports Minister almost stopped because, as he said, there was nothing in it for Ghana.
The minister expected nothing less than $500,000 as Ghana’s taking from the match and found the argument by the Stars management that the friendly was being honoured for sporting reasons (without any financial gains) very outrageous.
That could be a point well made by the minister, but we were disappointed at the manner in which he carried the message, daring that there would be no match with South Africa unless the accompanying financial reward of not less than $500,000 was declared.
That was on the eve of the Ghana versus Uganda World Cup Africa group qualifier in Tamale and the damage that stance by the minister did to the outcome of the match (0-0) was massive, we dare say.
There was no hiding the truth that the pre-match foul atmosphere disconcerted the players, disturbed their concentration and even disoriented the national support and spirit behind the team.
We, therefore, find it disingenuous the argument by some that the Stars failed to perform to their expected potential because they were absent-minded, thinking more of the South Africa friendly than the World Cup qualifying match in Tamale.
Ridiculous! We cannot hold these our professional players, who are all widely travelled, in such low esteem as to think that they value travelling for the friendly more than qualifying for the doubly significant World Cup fiesta.
However, we cannot totally discount friendlies, as they serve as preparatory for bigger games and, in this regard, the Stars-Bafana encounter cannot be overemphasised.
But what does the future hold for the Black Stars and other national teams regarding friendly matches, in view of the ministerial edict that all such games should attract the highest or optimum financial gain possible?
The issue of playing friendly matches for sporting reasons will no longer be tenable and now will be jettisoned to the back-burner, as those inviting our teams would have to pay good money for them.
Meanwhile, if it is Ghana that is fixing the match, corporate marketing companies will be invited to buy the rights and organise it at their own expense.
Of course, we are in the age of commercial marketing for profitability and it is time the national teams took a plunge. That is the expectation of the Minister of Youth and Sports and the managers of the teams have to either obey or quit!