I have yet to read the full details of the news report about the reasons given by the President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Mr. Kurt Okraku, for his decision to award the five-year contract for the multimedia coverage of Ghana’s Premier Soccer League and the Football Association (FA) Cup to the Chinese-owned firm called StarTimes, but I am strongly inclined to believe that it had absolutely everything to do with corporate credibility (See “GBC Blasts GFA for Awarding GHPL Broadcast Rights to StarTimes” CitiNewsRoom.com / Ghanaweb.com 1/10/20). You see, it probably came down to which of the two corporate entities was the more financially solvent and was therefore highly unlikely to fuss with or bungle the contractual payment schedule.
Then also, the corporate executives of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) well appear to have taken the operatives of the GFA for granted. You see, like many of my readers, I was born and raised in Ghana, so I am pretty well aware of the incontrovertible fact of how we, Ghanaians, stereotypically tend to take business operations for granted, especially where the relationship involves two state-owned corporate establishments. Then also, it is quite obvious that in repetitively making references to the fact of the FA Cup and the Premier League being our bona fide “National Treasures,” the executive operatives of the GBC were rather unseemly attempting to do what many a Ghanaian corporate enterprise or establishment has been known to routinely do with the affairs of publicly owned or state-owned businesses, which is to cavalierly compromise the strict code of professionalism and salutary business sense.
I, however, have absolutely no trust or confidence in the newly elected Vice-President of the Ghana Football Association, Mr. Mark Addo – he also has variously been known and called Mark Nebo and Mark Adadevoh – whom I have known and briefly socialized with while we were both undergraduates at the City College of New York of the City University of New York (CCNY of CUNY) some 30 years ago. However, whatever beef or squabbles I may have with this Mega-SOB shall remain strictly under wraps, at least for one or two personal reasons that may have absolutely nothing to do with either Mr. Addo’s entrepreneurial acumen or professional competence.
At any rate, about the only complaint that I have with the GFA-StarTimes contract, and I hope it has yet to be officially finalized or ratified, is that the monetary value involved is woefully inadequate. Personally, I strongly believe that the Okraku Group significantly sold themselves and the GFA short. The contract with StarTimes ought to have been at least twice the amount or value that we are informed by the media that it is worth, which is approximately US$ 5.25 Million over the course of a half decade. And my primary reason here is that while, indeed, Ghana has yet to reach the semi-final or even the quarter-final level in the World Cup Tournaments, nevertheless, Ghanaian soccer is highly respected both on the African continent and in the global soccer community at large as one that is highly qualitative. Our players only need to be more self-disciplined and conscientious in much the same was that they are, largely, well known to be when they have played in foreign countries and foreign premier leagues, especially in Europe, the Americas and Asia.
This, incidentally, is also why I think President Okraku made a very wise decision to let Coach Kwasi Appiah, recently of the Black Stars, go pronto! As a great and major soccer nation, the reach of Ghana soccer, especially the Premier League and the FA Cup, goes well beyond the narrow confines of our very small country, which the Chinese corporate executives of StarTimes may vary well have scandalously overlooked. Other than the preceding, I sincerely am of the opinion that StarTimes was the better of the two contractual contenders. One, they look to be the more highly likely to provide Ghanaian soccer fans with more qualitative television and other multimedia fare and to be far more professional in business orientation. For the most part, our local corporate executives are raw beginners in the highly globalized and brutally efficient corporate world, their several or admirable individual aptitudes, talents and achievements notwithstanding.
I shall come back to the Kwasi Appiah Episode at some point in the near future. But for now, suffice it for me to tangentially observe that the man, who is about my own age, never had the sort of front-row or vanguard global soccer exposure or international experience that the present generation of Ghanaian soccer players like Asamoah Gyan, Sulley Muntari, Balotelli – please don’t write back to tell me that this apparently lost soul is an Italian national – Kevin Prince Boateng and the Ayew Brothers have had and are still having. The key phrase here is “Global Exposure.” Let’s chuck this vacuous sense of nationalism into the Zoomlion-provided garbage can. Soccer is about winning, first and foremost, not sentimental fluff.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs