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Sports Features Tue, 30 Jun 2015

Why Elvis should have been fired after 2014 World Cup

There are times when certain things happen, or you hear about something, or read about it and you begin to ask yourself whether you are losing it or not.

I will be honest and say that I have been stunned into silence over the last week or so after leafing through the Dzamefe Commission Report. Let me quickly state that it is not all doom and gloom in the report, because there were actually some very good recommendations on how best to manage the sport of football in this country from a technical point of view. Such recommendations mirror some of the reforms I have written about for some years now.

This will be the first of a series of opinionated articles I will be penning on the report because there are so many issues to discuss. This is going to focus on the million dollar question that was asked during the Commission hearings; ‘Na who cause am?’ In other words, why was the money for the players delayed ahead of the 2014 World Cup? How come the players did not receive the money until after the second game against Germany? What was the reason for the delay?

Former Youth and Sports Minister Elvis Afriyie Ankrah was asked this question by the Commission and his response was that he would answer the question in camera, that is away from all prying eyes.

The Commission report lays bare the money trail and this is what the report says.

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The Ghana Football Association presented a budget estimate to the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS) and the MOYS sent a proposal of $9,870,810 to the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President. This was on March 15 2014. The money was to include all per diems for players and staff of the Black Stars contingent travelling to Brazil for the World Cup, as well as the appearance fees for the players and coaching staff. The money was also to include match winning bonuses that would be paid if the Black Stars won or qualified for the next stage of the competition.

On March 27 2014, the Chief of Staff, which was Prosper Bani at the time, approved an amount of $9,417,024.87 plus GHC1,478,250. This approval was contained in a letter on that same date addressed to the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry of Finance received the letter on April 2 2014 and went ahead to process and release the funds to the Controller and Accountant General’s Department on May 12 2014.

The Controller and Accountant General’s department (CAGD) transferred the first tranche of GH¢25,833,724.50 to MOYS on May 20 2014.

On the following day, the CAGD transferred the remaining balance of GH¢1,478,249.50 to MOYS, bringing the total to GHC27,311,974.00.

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Now this is where issues began to crop up.

Now the GHC25,833,724.50 released by the Ministry of Finance was equivalent to the initial approval of $9,417,024.87.

After receiving this amount on May 20 2014, MOYS should have issued a letter of instruction to the Bank of Ghana but inexplicably delayed in sending that letter until a week later. As a result, since the cedi was depreciating at the time and because of the late issuance of the letter, the Bank of Ghana paid $8,918,945.06 to the MOYS dollar account for the national team on May 27. What this means is that the transfer could have been done on the same day if MOYS had sent the letter to the Bank of Ghana on May 20.

So a total of $404, 841.94 was lost because of the delay. Add bank charges of $93,237.87 and the total deductions were $498,071.81.

Since the bank charges will always be constant, I will leave that out, but who was responsible for issuing the letter to the BOG on time? Why did they have to wait a full week, during which the cedi as depreciating against the dollar at a rate faster than Usain Bolt? Whose inactions caused a loss of over $400,000? Why nobody was held liable for this loss in the report? It is mind boggling if you ask me.

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Again, if the money was eventually released by the BOG to MOYS on May 27, then how come the players and staff of the Black Stars did not get it until the night of June 25, almost a month later?

Let me attempt to give some information on the whole issue. May 27 was four clear days before the June 1 2014 friendly against the Netherlands in Rotterdam. I know on authority that former Adenta Member of Parliament Kojo Adu Asare and current Sports Minister Dr Mustapha Ahmed went to Holland to speak to the players over the appearance fees. Government was prepared to pay $82,500 per player but the players refused, insisting on $100,000 per player instead.

I am also aware that before the players left Ghana for Holland, Unibank had given each member of the Black Stars contingent an ATM card with the promise that money would be transferred on it. I am reliably informed that one of the technical team members attempted to use the card in Holland but had issues. This, I am told, resulted in the players demanding their money in cash.

The disagreement was allowed to go on until the players arrived in Brazil for the World Cup. It took the intervention of the Vice President, Kwesi Amissah Arthur before the $100,000 sum was agreed and that heralded one of the most infamous events in Ghana’s football history. An amount of $4 million in cash was flown to Brazil and the country’s largest TV network, O Globo actually cut into a Telenovela they were showing to beam live pictures of the plane landing and the money loaded onto vehicles for onward journeys to the Black Stars camp. It was indeed a moment of infamy and little wonder that the Black Stars exited the competition after losing to Portugal the following day.

My questions are as follows. Since, as per the report, there was no addition to the money released by the Bank of Ghana to the MOYS, why was government insisting on paying each player $82,500 instead of $100,000? Why didn’t they pay the $100,000 per player immediately the money hit the MOYS dollar account for the national team? Where the money was kept all this time before eventually carted to Brazil? As my colleague Benjamin Nketsia would say, not even drug dealers would transport money in this way.

Why isn’t anyone being indicted for the delay that led to so many unsavoury incidents in camp?

For me, government has to be held responsible for what went on and my fingers are pointing firmly at the MOYS and the then minister Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, not only for the delay, but also for the loss of over $400,000 after delaying in issuing the letter to the BOG by a week.

I am very disappointed that the report fails to call a spade a spade in this regard and for me, an opportunity has been missed in making an example of those responsible.

I believe that Elvis Afriyie Ankrah should have been fired after the 2014 World Cup, but he was instead moved to the Presidency as a Minister of State. I guess that the President was constrained by the politics of the situation, but some testicular fortitude should have been shown in taken certain hard decisions.

My next piece will focus on the infamous co-efficient money, but I will end by saying that government is largely at fault for the delay of the money which ultimately resulted in a lack of focus in the Black Stars camp. I am not saying that the Black Stars and the GFA are blameless, but on this issue, government has to carry the can for indecision, which proved almost fatal.

Source: Christopher Opoku