GFA President Kwasi Nyantakyi
Ghana’s build up for the Africa Cup of Nations in South
Africa next year has been anything but uneventful.
Close to a month ago, news
broke that the Ghana Football Association had presented an $8 million budget to
the Ministry of Youth and Sports to be considered as the proposed expenditure
for the tournament (via a confidential memo that leaked).

The reaction, considering the heftiness of the sum, was more
than expected. The public were quick to make their opposition clear, well; at
least the majority voice was that of those who opposed it on the basis of it
being overly extravagant. There were heated debates across board, on radio,
television, in print etc. People argued that the Ivory Coast, who spent $10
million for AFCON 2012, were beaten to the trophy by Zambia, who spent less
than $2 million. Essentially, the point was that spending big was not going to magically
(or so to speak, automatically) end Ghana’s over three decade AFCON trophy
Patriotism, deceit,
Moreover, others – more like the nationalists – argued that
it would be unwise for the Nation to spend that amount on a football
tournament, when it currently faces deep lying problems such as power
inadequacies, unemployment, infrastructural problems et al. To be fair, the
people arguing against made very logical points. Interestingly, it emerged that
it was the players themselves who had actually demanded for an increment in winning
bonuses, thus inflating the budget. “The figures we sent were based on
negotiations with the players” GFA President Kwasi Nyantakyi told  And this was after quite
a number of them had year in year out laced the ears of Ghanaians with sweet
talks of being patriotic and ready to die for the nation no matter the cost –
even if it meant doing so on insufficient wages. Basically, they had
pretentiously tried to make Ghanaians believe that they were motivated by the
pride, and not the money.
With time, startling revelations were made, which only went
far to justify the concerns of the skeptics.

A staggering $1,06 million was budgeted for a plush training
camp in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 7-16 January next year. The winning
bonuses, which was at $10 000 per match at CAN 2008, through to $12 500 for CAN
2012, was going to go up to $15 000 FOR can 2013. Each player and official-
yes, and official – was to receive
$17,500 at the quarter-final stage, $20,000 each at the semis, $22,000 each for
a third-place playoff and $25,000 each should they reach the grand final in
South Africa. Additionally, the budget made a $70 000 provision for media relations
(and this was after media accusations of a $50 000 media relations designation
for South Africa 2010 being unaccounted for). Even further, there was $15 000
for laundry services, $200 000 provision for unspecified protocol,  $100 000 for scouting, $20 000 for food and $5
000 for entertainment.

Conspiracy theories, Arguments
In the ensuing debate that erupted, many Ghanaians accused
the GFA of trying to ‘twist the State’s arms’ by using the nation’s intense
desire to taste continental success once more to make money. In all fairness, some
of the amounts were(in comparison with previous figures, as well as in relation
to the task they were ear marked for) ridiculous, even so much so that there
were some people belonging to the in-support-of-the-budget minority who agreed to that

The argument for was based on the fact that the players needed
a kind of motivation that was ambitious enough to bring out the extreme
commitment in them. Moreover, they argued, if it meant bringing the trophy
back from South Africa was guaranteed, then why not?
No Guarantees
The fact remains that there are no guarantees about Ghana
winning the tournament. Apart from the country’s own peculiar mistakes that
have cost it the trophy over the past three editions, there have, is, and will
always be the element of luck. No amount of money can buy luck. So in effect,
the money could end up being practically wasted should Ghana miss out on the
trophy. Also, the structure of the earnings suggested that the players could
afford to reach, say, the quarter final only and still earn a substantial
amount of money. That in itself sabotages the goal of going for gold. 
Sports Ministry, GFA
The Ministry of Youth and Sports overlooked the leakage and
pledged to review the budget in a critical way to scale it down if possible.
According to GFA source who spoke to SuperSport, the GFA owes the Ministry some
$400,000, which they received during the AFCON in January, after players
(again) demanded for increments as they progressed through the tournament. The
Minister was going to “use as a bargaining chip to force the FA to consider
the amounts they are demanding” the source added. Meanwhile, Kwasi Nyantakyi
was accused by many for using the players and their reported demands for
increments as a cover up for something they suspected was an attempt to benefit
incessantly. He, naturally, defended himself and his outfit, as well as some of
the figures, like that of the media relations :” We thought we were extending
a helping hand due to cases we witnessed at certain tournaments where you would
see journalists surrounding top officials requesting for money to support
The Ministry has since, via Deputy Minister Edward Omane
Boamah, said they have reviewed the budget fully and have arrived at a figure
left for the Government to approve. “The Ministry after its revision have
arrived at a figure which is relatively different from what the Ghana FA
presented. We analyzed what the state can pay and have arrived at this
decision. Our findings have been contained in a document which has since been
forwarded to the government” He said.
Good thing for Ghana,
Regardless of the tension that this issue created, primarily
via the manner in which the information broke out, the situation went a long
way to promote transparency, and to some extent, accountability. Ghanaians were
deservedly in the know with regards to how much their players and officials
were going to earn – which is always a vital factor in ensuring that the whole
nation is on the same page ahead of a tournament that will require full,
unadulterated support from every citizen. The information in the public domain also
equipped citizens with the confidence to participate in the debate, which by
the way, was predominantly insightful and objective. Moreover, it heightened
the anticipation for the AFCON, raising expectations as well as taking the
whole nation’s mind off the intense politics that had enveloped the country
ahead of the general elections – albeit for just a while.

Fiifi Anaman.