In a shocking development, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, former Minister of Youth and Sports has informed the Presidential Commission on the Brazil 2014 appearance of Ghana that “a friend of the government provided the plane” for the controversial last trip of supporters and officials which arrived in Brazil after the nation had been eliminated from the tournament.
The embattled former Sports Minister, made the surprising disclosure while answering questions from the three man commission, on the third day of his appearance before the commission.
In his previous appearances on Wednesday and Thursday, Mr Afriyie-Ankrah, expressed regret and became emotional at the early exit of the Black Stars as a result of the gross indiscipline exhibited by some members of the playing body mainly because of disagreements and delay in payment of appearance fees.
CRY?…Never in my wildest imagination
The ex-Sports Minister, who broke down on Thursday when responding to a question regarding how he felt when the players refused to train for two days despite having a crucial group ‘G’ decider against Portugal, dismissed assertions he faked shedding tears at his appearance at the 2014 World Cup Commission in order to seek empathy.
It would be recalled that Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, during his second appearance before the Commission, sobbed uncontrollably as he tried to express his pain during the difficult period which left the chair of the commission Justice Senyo Dzamefe to delay proceedings.
Since then, there have been lots of speculations in the media that the ex-Sports Minister’s show of intense emotion was only made to court public sympathy.
But on Monday, while answering a question from a member of the Commission, Moses Foh-Amoaning, regarding the claims, Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah said: “My lord, we have 25 million Ghanaians [and] people are entitled to their views…You were here and you saw what happened…Before God and man it was not planned, it was not premeditated…I don’t even know how it started…Never in my wildest imagination will I think of doing something like that [crying in public]…It wasn’t a difficult question but it triggered the emotions,” the Minister said on his third appearance.
Answering a question from the Commission Chairman, Justice Senyo Dzamefe on what he thought about the flight of the 26th of July which arrived in Brasilia after Ghana had been knocked out of the competition, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah informed the Commission that he preferred to answer that question in camera and provide the details to the commission on that controversial flight, but stated that the flight was sponsored by a “friend of the government”.
“My Lord, I would like to answer that question in camera but just something small which the public can know is that a friend of government made his plane available for that trip”, he told the Commission.
The last flight to Brazil which had officials like Kojo Adu-Asare, representative of the Chief of Staff on the World Cup Planning Committee and who doubled as leader of delegation for that questionable trip, generated a lot controversy when news broke that the supporters ferried to Brazil, only arrived after Ghana had been eliminated while at the same time, the government had failed to provide transport for the hundreds of Ghanaians who were already in Brazil to go and support Ghana in its last game against Portugal.
Elvis’s revelation about the friend of government who sponsored this trip brings up many other questions on whether this sponsor also took care of the accommodation, feeding and other expenses of the officials and supporters who were on the particular flight or whether those costs were borne by the state.
The revelation also brings back memories of similar issues during the 2010 World Cup where the government attributed the airlifting of some supporters to a philanthropist, only for that philanthropist to be identified months later as Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome, who was paid a controversial Judgment debt months before his sponsorship of the Ghanaian supporters.