The announcement that the Black Stars’ players have agreed with the Sports Minister-Designate, Mr. Isaac Asiamah, to slash their match-winning bonuses by 50-percent in their AFCON camp in Gabon, comes as one of wistful acceptance, if also because the dismal funding record of the outgone National Democratic Congress (NDC) government left much to be desired (See “Black Stars Bonuses Slashed By 50%” MyJoyOnline.com 1/23/17). Regular readers of my columns know that I have not been very thrilled with the general treatment of our soccer players, particularly those of our senior national team, by our politicians. And if I had my own way, there would be as little political interference in the day-to-day running of not only the Black Stars but sports, in general, in the country as a whole.
Besides, I strongly believe that the tournament grounds or even the AFCON camp of the Black Stars is not the most appropriate venue to be discussing player bonuses and emoluments. It is simply not healthy for both the players and the general development of the sport in the country. This abject lack of professionalism vis-à-vis the handling of the financial side of the Black Stars has been going on for far too long. We witnessed the same appalling case scenario play out during the 2014 Brazil-hosted World Cup to unpardonably embarrassing effect. And before that, there was the equally embarrassing case that occurred under the tenure of former President John Agyekum-Kufuor, in which a Sports Minister was convicted and imprisoned for embezzling money meant to be divvied up among the players of the Black Stars.
This time, the problem occurred in Egypt, also during the African Cup of Nations tournament. And so what we clearly see here is that the leaders of both major parties are having a hard time managing the financial side of the affairs of the Black Stars. The Akufo-Addo Administration cannot be faulted for this vicious cycle of managerial deficiency, because it comes in at a very inauspicious moment when most of the cabinet appointees have yet to go through the parliamentary vetting and confirmation process. Thus, for example, Mr. Asiamah had to fly to Gabon to broker the financial agreement with the Black Stars’ players as a Sports Minister-Designate, rather than the substantive Sports Minister. And the fact that he was successful in his dealings with the Stars’ players, largely as a show of goodwill on the part of the latter, may portend signs of great things to come in the offing.
The Akufo-Addo Administration has a bounden obligation to live up to the expectations of both the players of the national soccer team and their fans, by ensuring that this patently unsavory situation does not repeat itself in the near future.
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