Ghana’s Black Stars are finally out of the FIFA World Cup, following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Portugal. The team’s exit, however, does not seem to carry the usual disappointment it normally does when they come crashing out of a tournament. According to Bright Kankam Boadu, a respected Ghanaian sports journalist, some Ghanaians were actually rooting for the Portuguese team during the game.
“You’ll be very much surprised to learn that there were a lot of Ghanaians who were supporting Portugal to win because of what was happening at the camp,” Boadu said to reporters.
Mr. Kankam Boadu says this is as a result of a myriad of factors, chief among them, the incident in the Black Stars camp that saw the repelling of Sulley Ali Muntari, and Kevin Prince Boateng, as well as the players insistence to be paid $100,000 each, before honoring the final Group G game against Portugal.
The team was bedeviled with a series of problems starting with a report by the UK newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, purporting that the FA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi, and some other officials, were involved in an abortive deal to fix matches in which the Black Stars were to play. Following that, there was an incident where the players boycotted training, and had refused to board the flight to Brasilia to play the game against Portugal, unless they were paid an appearance fee of $100,000 in hard cash.
It took the intervention of President John Mahama, and a subsequent airlifting of $3 million to Brazil to pay the players for them to honor the game. According to Kankam Boadu, this is what really infuriated Ghanaians to withdraw their support for the Black Stars.
“Most Ghanaians are very angry with the team, and I’m sure if the team should touch down in Ghana, it would probably take the intervention of the military or the police to stop them,” he said.
Kankam-Boadu said at a time when Polytechnic lecturers are on strike, and utility tariffs are about to be increased, Ghanaians found it unacceptable that the team should hold the nation to ransom.
“I’m sure you read about it, you’ve heard about it. The kind of hardships that Ghanaians are going through, the energy crisis, jobs, and all the things and people are wondering (why) players who are supposed to play because of the flag, are demanding monies to be paid to them before they don the national colors,” he said.
Ghanaians saw this attitude as unpatriotic and thus decided to withdraw their support from the team.
Kankam Boadu who was in the Black Stars camp in Brazil at a point, also added that the team did not play well because they had “other things apart from football” on their minds.
He refuted the notion making the rounds that the players had not been paid their bonuses, leading to them staging the strike. He said they had actually been paid all their bonuses, but they had demanded an appearance fee of $100,000 each instead of the $75,000 promised them by the government and the FA.
“The players have been paid every single bonus they are entitled to. The players had demanded that they should be given $100,000 each as appearance fees for playing at the World Cup. The government of Ghana decided that it was too much, because the country had a lot of challenges at this very moment.” He said the government offered $75,000, but the players refused the amount, and stuck to their guns to boycott the game until the president stepped in and authorized the payment of $100,000 to each player.
He also attributed the Black Stars loss to a serious lack of discipline. “The leadership of the team has totally lost control,” he said. Also noting that he observed the players refusing to adhere to camp rules, having their wives and girlfriends around, and even nightclubbing while in camp.