The Mix of National Team Call-up, Bonuses, FA and Corruption

Thursday June 26 may see us crash out of the World Cup after just the first round – yup, a strange first in our history considering the fact that it is just our 3rd attempt.

Now prior to that game, Ghana has been embroiled in lots of controversies that will no doubt impact on our progression in the World Cup (that is if we are to assume that all other indices will favour us).

Sulley Muntari, my best player of the team thus far and Kevin Prince Boateng have been sacked from camp for various cases of indiscipline. We probably are the first team to have disciplinary issues in camp resulting in the dismissal of players.

To quote a source, “As unbelievable as these things may sound, here are bits of credible info picked up from Brazil.

1. Kwesi Appiah was involved in an altercation with Kevin Prince Boateng yesterday after Appiah thought that a comment Boateng made to Sulley Muntari was aimed at him. According to reports, Appiah swore at Boateng, who questioned why the head coach was shouting at him in front of every body.

2. Appiah later on broke down in tears when the Black Stars entourage was having dinner and he had to be escorted out of the dining area by Prof. Kwame Mintah.

3. According to deputy Sports Minister, Joseph Yamin, the players’ insistence on receiving their appearance fees in cash has led to the money being kept in a bullion truck at the Kotoka International Airport, awaiting clearance before a jet would transport the money to the boys in Brazil.

4. Players are now threatening not to train until they are paid.

5. Kevin Prince Boateng might be thrown out of camp but the matter is still being discussed.”

6. Muntari too.
Add the timing of the match fixing allegations and we have on our hands a mix bag with enough self-destruct ammunition that will not only leave our World Cup aspirations in tatters,  but will also leave lasting and devastating repercussions.

NATIONAL CALL-UP

It is not compulsory to play for any national team. Really it is not. Elsewhere,  and indeed even in Ghana some players have turned down invitations to play for their national sides. It is not by force. Generally though, players across the world deem it an honour to wear the national colours and there is no stage bigger for players to don their nation’s jerseys done at the World Cup.

In Ghana we have a situation where with the exception of the Ayew brothers, Kevin Prince Boateng, Adam Kwarasey and Albert Adoma, all the players in Brazil 2014 got their European club contracts because Ghana gave them the chance to wear her kit at the junior level. I stand to be corrected though. In other words, if Ghana hadn’t selected them, they would have been playing here in Ghana and not earning the huge sums they make weekly. It will thus make sense to expect that these lads would run whenever Ghana says, ‘I want you to be part of our dear country’s team to the World Cup’.

A lot has changed in football over the past 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years. Back in the day the entire Black Stars were locally based players and they will run throughout their towns to announce that they have been selected to play for Ghana. The pride and honour was intense. It was every player’s dream.

See, the expression is ‘call up’. The coach calls up ideally the best players the nation has at any point in time. We unfortunately live with the illusion that our best players are those who ply their trade in Europe. Even for goalkeepers we prefer those warming benches in Europe than those keeping shots out of posts twice a week in the local league.

I have heard and read some lame arguments about the fact that “will I agree to work for free”? Bollocks. Absolute balderdash. Nonsense. Nobody had said the players were not going to be paid appearance fees and bonuses for the World Cup. Regardless of the fact that as far as I am concerned pride and patriotism and nationalism out to be the foremost reasons for playing for the national side, I have never questioned why players should be paid. But if you are at the greatest football mundial in the world, and you have a game you must win at all cost and you dare to threaten your countrymen and women that unless you get paid monies that FIFA has not even given your FA yet and others your FA has said they will give you, you wouldn’t train or play the game then in my books you are a greedy, unpatriotic, ungrateful and senseless idiot who does not deserve to ever wear a national kit again.

Players sign employment contracts with their clubs. These clubs are by law mandated to do A, B and C. Playing for a national team is different. Very different. It is not based on how much money you will be paid. If any player goes to try to negotiate a pay rise before playing for a national side, he will simply be side stepped before he even gets a hearing. National team football is different. It is not for monetary purposes. Even if the FA wants to outsmart you, you shouldn’t put the nation’s interest below yours.

Whenever I hear our national anthem being played I stand still. I sometimes shake and have tears in my eyes. My dad thought me the meaning of that anthem when I was a little boy. Ghana should mean something to us.

FOOTBALL GODFATHERS

There have been lots of stories about how each player in the team has some sort of godfather ensuring their places in the team. Yes I know, we see these lads play and some of them we know  their quality is not in doubt. But then we cannot wish away that thought that a very excellent player playing for some team behind Bawku or Nsawkaw or Enchi or Adaklu may never get the chance to play for Ghana because he has no godfather.

Perhaps it is this ‘godfather’ situation which has made some players feel untouchable. I still cannot wrap my brains around the disgusting stories that have come out of Brazil.

SO EMBARRASSED I WISH THE EARTH WILL SWALLOW ME

Have you ever been so embarrassed you wish the earth will just open up and swallow you? That was how I felt when Ghana made the headlines on CNN and BBC and Reuters and virtually every major global news station when our President was quoted as having directed that we send out $3m in cash to the players so they rescind their decision not to play. Look at this over the background that our economic situation has been globally seen as being precarious and there’s no solution in sight.

There have been no other team at the games whose players have done what we have done. We have allowed these players to hold us to ransom and to subject us to such gross embarrassment on the world stage.

FA AND MISTRUST

News filtering in suggest that some elements within the FA are those subtly pushing for money. There’s also the issue of mistrust between players and football authorities. Whatever may or may not be the case, these things clearly ought to be looked at and this rubbish about non interference in matters of football administration should be thrown out. When the FA messes up it affects the entire government and us. Why should we not be involved?

NATIONAL CORRUPTION AND FOOTBALL

Some people are saying that if our politicians plunder our resources even without doing any work what stops our national team players who we see running and sweating from going for what is due them. The issue of corruption is one we cannot ever stop discussion. It is to me a moot point in this discussion especially when one thinks of the fact that no one had said the players were not going to be paid.

WRAPPING THIS UP

I still insist that the national call to partake in the World Cup ought to be seen as a call where just a few lucky ones get to receive. It is a privilege. It is an honour. Think about this: there are thousands if not a few millions of players in this country. Anyone of those players could have been chosen to play for the national team. In fact, there are probably better players who may not have made it to the squad for one reason or the other.

We need a bunch of disciplined players who know what it means to play for one’s country. Players who appreciate the pleasure and honour and opportunity to play for their nations. If this means reorientation for the current squad and a possible overhaul,  let’s do it.

Ghana deserves better.

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