Former Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, yesterday appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into the Brazil 2014 World Cup scandal, saying a colossal sum of GH¢188,665,000 (¢1.89 billion old cedis) was spent on a dinner for the Black Stars.
According to him, the dinner, named the ‘Presidential Ball’, held at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Accra, had a dual purpose—to bid the Black Stars farewell (as they left for the 2014 World Cup) and raise funds for the team.
The ex-sports chief, making his first appearance, however failed to provide the Commission with details regarding what exactly went into the high profile banquet by way of finances.
He was bombarded with questions, and he sometimes fumbled in the process of answering.
And as was expected, the Commission subjected Mr Afriyie-Ankrah to rigorous interrogation in the jam-packed Media Centre of the Accra Stadium. Indications are that the interrogation session with the Commission will move to a higher gear in the coming days and he is expected to spend more days than had originally been planned.
So far, the Commission, chaired by Justice Senyo Dzamefe, an Appeal Court Judge, has dealt with matters regarding preparations ahead of the soccer festival in Ghana.
Mr Afriyie-Ankrah rendered the figures expended on the various Committees thus: Accommodation and Feeding – GH¢1, 953, 96.52; Printing and Souvenir – GH¢168,314.93; Media Relations – GH¢16,700; Advertisement – GH¢461,000; Website/App – GH¢22,857,000; Presidential Ball – GH¢188,665; World Cup Tickets – GH¢519,350; Medicals – GH¢5,258.37; while GH¢1,740 took care of Communication.
Other spending included transport within Brazil – GH¢140,269,000; Entertainment – GH¢76,370,000 as well as Stationary and Consumables – GH¢14,947,000.
The former sports minister revealed that his outfit subjected the GFA budget presented to it to proper scrutiny before Cabinet finally approved it.
He told the Commission that ‘we took the GFA budget through a rigorous process, it went through a very, very thorough review after weeks before taking it to Cabinet.’
It emerged at the sitting also that players of the Black Stars received a meager fee of $100 each day, while the World Cup ambassadors and officials received $200 and $150 each day respectively.
The witness mentioned that players of the Black Stars made a high demand of $120,000 as appearance fee for the Brazil 2014 World.
The former Youth and Sports Minister hinted that countless attempts by officials to convince the players to accept Cabinet’s approved $82,500 proved futile.
Reacting to a question on whether or not it was the players that made the demand, he said, ‘Yes, we told the players of Cabinet’s approved $82,500, that is a ten-percent increment over the 2010 World Cup, but they rejected it.
‘The FA and the Ministry told the players about the prevailing economic conditions but they wouldn’t agree. All we were doing were proposals, they requested for $120,000, and I told them I can’t defend it before Cabinet.
‘The leadership of the players met us in Holland and told us they were not taking the Cabinet approved $82,500, so we finally decided on $100,000, at least that was reasonable,’ said Afriyie-Ankrah.
Even before government airlifted a huge sum of $4m in a chartered flight to Brasilia before their last Group game against Portugal, the issue of Ghana’s appearance fee dominated headlines not only on the local front, but in the international media as well.
A Brazilian media outfit, Globo TV, captured the arrival of Ghana’s financial kitty live from the Airport till it was finally disbursed, where a Black Stars player was seen kissing his share after receiving it.
The witness indicated that his outfit succeeded in realising an amount of GH¢459,635m; and an account named ‘Ministry of Youth and Sports -Brazil 2014 World Cup Account’ was opened to which the Ministry’s Chief Accountant and Chief Director were signatories.
He pointed out that 23 corporate entities and individuals supported in raising the said amount which the World Cup ambassadors helped to a large extent in realising.
Out of the raised revenue, he mentioned that the Ministry blew GH¢4,483,262.89.
Sitting continues today.
By Kofi Owusu Aduonum
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