For a moment, it appeared the Ministry of Youth and Sports was not going to participate in the two-day congress of the Ghana Football Association which ended yesterday at the Ghanaman Centre of Excellence at Prampram.
As was reported on the first day, there was no sign of any representative of the ministry showing up. Not even the ebullient Deputy Minister, the VOA himself (Vincent Oppong Asamoah), whose favourite subject appears to be the FA and its workings, could be sighted by the congressmen and women, fuelling the suspicion about the uncozy relationship between the Sports Ministry and the FA.
However, all that must have changed yesterday when the sector Minister, Dr Mustapha Ahmed, graced the function with an address that sounded too good to be true and which could hardly hide the grin on the face of the FA boss and his colleagues.
Indeed, we are still surprised beyond belief at the minister’s high commendations of the FA, contrary to the general perception that the association represents all that is bad in our football development and all the negatives currently associated with the national soccer teams.
If ever there was any rebuke of the FA by the minister, it was loudly muted, we dare say. Rather, we heard (amidst cheers) the honourable minister laud the FA members and ask of them to continue to show “transparency and accountability”.
As observers, we find the minister’s clean bill of health given the FA as a crafty way of rebuilding bridges between the two bodies after the recent instances of suspicion following issues over the national teams’ bonuses and World Cup appearance fees by the Black Stars.
Indeed, we believe the magnanimous gesture by the minister could, in the main, be a tactical move to make the FA feel at ease and confident in its approaches to and workings with the ministry against the backdrop of the near acrimony that characterised their dealings in recent times.
But even if the move by the minister was to reach out positively to the FA hierarchy, we still wonder why he could do that without a passing comment on the recent hullabaloo over the FA’s ex gratia payment to ExCo members.
We thought it was the ideal platform for the Sports Ministry’s position on the matter to be registered, just as we had expected the minister to seize the opportunity to deal with the controversial issues of the high bonuses and the World Cup appearance fees of the Black Stars.
With all due respect to the minister, his treatment of these issues, which had been subjects of a post-Brazil World Cup Commission of Inquiry, was, in our view, shabby and not detailed enough to convince the football people at yesterday’s gathering.
For instance, even though the minister hinted, through a response to a questioner, that the Stars’ winning bonus had now been agreed to be $5,000 and not $10,000, it was refuted moments later by the Management Committee Chairman of the Stars, George Afriyie, that the latter figure still held sway.
We deem this reaction to be an affront. But the minister did make the point which seemed to suggest that the $5,000 was only a temporarily consideration because of the dire financial straits in which the entire nation finds itself now, giving room for vacillation on his part.
Indeed, the minister stated categorically that “it is about the ability to pay”, which suggests that once there is liquidity (money), $10,000 or even more could be paid as winning bonus.
It is that kind of infirm decision that would make the Stars’ managers beat their chest that it is $10,000 that would prevail, in spite of the general outcry by Ghanaians that the tote is too high and must be reduced.
The Honourable Dr Mustapha Ahmed must come again!