Former Minister of Youth and Sports, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah has emphatically stated that the Black Stars Management and the entirety of the Ghana Football Association were against the demand of players of the National Team to be given $100,000 and together with his Ministry and Government tried relentlessly to get the players to review their stance and accept the $82,500 amount originally approved by Cabinet as appearance fees.
Elvis Afriyie Ankrah made the comments on Day two of his appearance at the Presidential Commission tasked to uncover issues that affected Ghana’s appearance at the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
Elvis Afriyie Ankrah while giving testimony in an emotionally charged atmosphere said “The GFA Executives were on our side throughout trying to get the players to accept the $82,500 Cabinet had approved. At the time I came in the FA executives were frustrated, distraught and told me they had tried several times to get the players to accept the agreed figure to no avail. The issue of appearance fees came up in Rotterdam when Ghana played the Netherlands in the friendly. I was there.
That was where the leadership of the team stated their case formally that the $82,500 Cabinet approved was not good enough. They said FIFA had increased the price monies from the 2010 and previous levels. They also said that they sweat and toil on the field to get us to qualify for the World Cup and at the time Jerry Akaminko had suffered that unfortunate injury so they cited it also as an example. The players also refered to status of former players and referred to other countries where players were taking more. I specifically remember Cameroon who they said were taking $120,000,” he told the Commission.
Elvis said that on his part, he told the players that there was nothing that could be done about the figure since it was a cabinet decision and tried convincing the players to accept the $82,500 approved by Cabinet.
“I told them it was Cabinet decision and could not be changed. I also reminded them of the furore the appearance fees and budget had generated in Ghana and that increasing it to $100,000 will not sell with the public. I also told them about the state of the economy and reminded them that once they qualify, they could get more and their value would appreciate with the likelihood of getting better deals with clubs. We had had times in the past where the players wanted more and we were able to talk to them to rescind their demands but this time they said that consistently, anytime we negotiate with them, we win and that this time, it was their turn to win, so they stood their grounds.”
On what the players reaction to these arguments were, Elvis noted that the players knew and understood the arguments but that they had taken a decision and that is what they wanted.
The former Minister of Sports confirmed therefore that as at the time the team left the Netherlands, there was a stalemate as no agreement had been reached with the players on the appearance fees.
On why they left Amsterdam without an agreement on the appearance fees, Afriyie Ankrah explained that with the furore that the issue generated in Ghana and with the grilling Cabinet gave him when he presented the Budget to them together with his team, he was not ready to compromise to get the players what they were demanding.
On what finally led to the agreement to pay the players the $100,000 they were demanding, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah disclosed that it was the Vice President, Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah Arthur, who approved the increment and announced it to the players.
“When we got to Brazil, there were several marathon meetings where we myself and the management tried to convince the players to take 82,500. It got to a time where I realized that we had crossed the situation where it was we the government are saying this is what we will give you and you either take it or leave it. I knew that we had gotten to a situation where if we did not take care, there was a real risk that something could happen. So I decided to tell the VEEP. I decided to tell the Vice President also because the Coach told me that he felt this issue should be settled once and for all so as not to affect the team in its matches
I told him the difficulties we were having and we had a discussion, and based on the fact that there was not going to be any extra budgetary costs on the taxpayer, since the money was coming from the FIFA money, we decided to give it to them. The Vice President promised them the $100,000. He was there during their final training session before their first game and announced this decision and the players were happy.”, the former Minister of Sports said.
Elvis Afriyie Ankrah also disclosed that Captain of the team, Asamoah Gyan, explained to him that even though he sympathized with the government’s position, there was little he could o since the team had taken a decision and since as Captain of the team, he had no choice than to defend that position and amplify the voice of the team.