By Bernard Asubonteng
Perhaps none of us up in here US can confirm the veracity of some media reports attributed to the Egypt head coach Bob Bradley that Ghana FA’s push for a change in venue for the return World Cup playoff in Egypt somehow amounted to insensitivity on Ghanaians’ part. As stated, it is not clear for now if Mr. Bradley actually made that assertion that Ghana FA is “insensitive” for asking FIFA to consider changing the venue from beleaguered Egypt to a relatively peaceful country. In that regard, we will try to give him the benefit of the doubt.
However, if the US-born head coach of Egypt actually made the claim that Ghana or GFA is “insensitive,” apparently, to the deadly civil unrest Egypt is stuck in for over two years now, then Mr. Bradley is either ignorant, dishonest, careless, stupid, or all of the above. Now, before we even move further to unpack Mr. Bob Bradley’s arrogance and ignorance about Africa soccer history and socio-cultural trajectories, it is worth examining the following scenario.
Imagine Ghana has been entangled in sporadic, unpredictable, and volatile civil, political, military, and social turmoil just for (say) a month, not lasting more than one year as unfolding in Egypt, will any major international event such as a decisive FIFA World Cup qualifying match allowed to be played in the so-called secured confines of a military soccer field? The answer to the foregoing question would be emphatically no!
Again, we don’t know for sure if the media report attributed to Mr. Bradley as quoted from citifmonline.com that “99.9% of the people of Egypt are going about their normal duties without any hindrances and trying to take care of things and this I think every Ghanaian should respect.” Did he say that for real? Did he truly understand respect when he allegedly made that remarks? If Mr. Bradley actually made this assessment about the prevailing sociopolitical conditions in Egypt then the fair conclusion that can be drawn here is that the Egypt head coach of American descent is not only ignorant of what is going on in that country, but also he does not care much about Ghanaians or black Africans and their safety concerns, period!
As of now, we know for sure that the second-leg playoff between Ghana and Egypt is scheduled to take place at the army-owned Air Defense Stadium in Cairo somewhere in November this year. Why not the main Cairo Stadium where almost all the national team games is previously played? Is it because the Egyptian military who are de facto authorities in their country know something no one else knows regarding the true situation in Egypt hence the shift to the military field? Stated differently, if “99.9% of the people of Egypt are going about their normal duties” as Mr. Bradley is quoted as saying, why should the second-leg game then be restricted to many average Egyptians?
Still we don’t know, but assuming Mr. Bradley has accused Ghanaians of being “insensitive” to (what?) the messy politico-military situation in Egypt, the question begging for answer is: will Mr. Bob Bradley say the same thing about the US for warning its citizens from the dangers of going or visiting Egypt, given the political uncertainties there? May be the underlying assumption here is that some group of people’s lives is not worth protecting, other than that it is hard to figure out where this “insensitive” allegation is all about.
Globally, Egypt is the second largest recipient of US’s military or foreign aid after Israel; but, owing to the destabilizing developments, with the tacit support of Egyptian army, the US has rightly suspended its foreign assistance to Egypt (ref: www.cnn.com, as reported by Elise Labott, Foreign Affairs Reporter, October 9, 2013). One wonders what Mr. Bradley has to say about that move from the US government. Would that suspension of aid considered “insensitive” according to the hypocritical mindset of Mr. Bradley? We know what his answer would be.
At this point what the Ghana FA needs to do is keep putting pressure on the biased FIFA to do the right thing for the safety all. The issue is not about who wins, draws, or loses in the second-leg game. GFA must keep insisting for fairness and not be cowed into timidity and all that nonsense allegedly from the ignorant head coach of Egypt’s national team. The volatile and unpredictable political conditions in Egypt are not all that different from what happened previously in Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo Republic and the like. It should be pointed out that in all these former troubled countries, FIFA and the CAF made sure that their soccer matches were honored in neutral venues.
Why is Egypt so different or special from the above countries? Okay, lest we forget, the CAF’s headquarters is in Cairo, Egypt. Many of us also know that Mr. Hany Abo Rida is an Egyptian executive member of FIFA; whereas Mr. Issa Hayatou, the head of the African soccer body and one of the vice presidents of FIFA, no doubt has strong connections with Egyptian leaders, having used that nation for CAF operations over the years. Why does it matter? This is because FIFA and CAF are noted for their corruption and favoritism. It may not be surprising that Mr. Hayatou appears to be missing in action on this issue.
In short, it will be a great disservice to Ghana soccer and to all Ghanaians’ intelligence for Mr. Nyantakyi-led GFA to be intimidated by any bull-crap from some cowards such as the current Egypt head coach, Mr. Bob Bradley, who is so scared of losing his job in the event of his team failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup that he thinks Cairo is his only sure path to victory. Please, GFA keep holding the biased FIFA’s feet to the fire! This is solely about the question of safety and fairness, and Ghana deserves one.
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