THE decision by the Ministry of Youth and Sports that all international friendly matches the senior national team, the Black Stars, engage in must be financially beneficial is hurting the team as other national teams have refused to pay when they propose the friendlies while others are also demanding to be paid cash before accepting to engage Ghana in international friendlies.
After the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the Black Stars are yet to play any international friendly as some national teams have taken advantage of the FIFA international free days to engage in friendlies to prepare for the upcoming qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In the month of October, Ghana again failed to take advantage of another FIFA international free day, raising concerns about the national team’s team-building efforts.
The Black Stars are yet to play any match after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations
Request for friendly matches against African champions Algeria, Senegal and Zambia all fell through as the teams declined to play the Black Stars due to the demand for cash by the Ghanaian authorities.
A source close to the team’s technical handlers told the Graphic Sportsonline that “requests have been made for some friendly matches for the FIFA free days but the feedback was that all the teams were not too keen to pay to play the Stars and were requesting that the two sides split the cost as was done in the past.
“In the past, teams were eager to play the Black Stars but since the emphasis of the ministry has been on getting some funds out of such arrangements, instead of being on reciprocal arrangements, most FAs have been reluctant to engage the team,” the source explained.
The ministry has since 2017 decided that any national team that plays the Stars will have to provide the return air tickets for the entire team, host them and in addition pay the $,5000 per player appearance fees for the team.
However, the source said that had not been a viable venture as most teams, while wiling to take up the cost of the airfares and hosting, are not prepared to pay the appearance fees.
A planned friendly against African champions, Algeria, was cancelled over disagreement on financial demands
The Graphic Sportsonline enquiries indicated the African champions, Algeria, were ready to play the Stars during the FIFA friendly day last September, but the ministry’s insistence on the payment of the appearance fees killed that arrangement.
An official of the Black Stars expressed his disappointment and worry about the current situation as the team was racing against time to prepare for their upcoming AFCON qualifiers.
“Next month, we are playing South Africa in the start of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers. The South Africans, in their preparation for the game against the Stars and Sudan on November 11 and 19, are playing Mali, a West African side, on October 13. Ideally, we should have also been playing a strong southern African side, but we have no such arrangement and the preparation we are likely to have is when we report for camp for that one week ahead of the game,” the source said with concern.
“It has also become an issue because the GFA which in the past absorbed some of the cost, such as the appearances fees, has refused to absorb it, saying it has no money and sponsorship. Also, the GFA is reluctant to pick up the bills with the excuse that the ministry takes all the gate proceeds of the Black Stars home matches and must thus set that aside for such friendlies,” lamented the official who spoke to the Graphic Sports on condition of anonymity.
“The stance of the ministry needs to be considered because it is already hurting the Stars. The dip in performance of the Stars, particularly at the last two AFCONs, coupled with missing out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, has affected the brand, and team building is become difficult.”