Travel and tour companies contracted by government to airlift Ghanaian soccer fans to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup have called for a detailed investigation into the conduct of the recently deposed Minister of Youth and Sports, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah.
The two agencies, Kenpong Travel and Tours and African Origin Travels & Sports Tourism are convinced that the financial and organisational scandals that rocked the Ghanaian contingent in Brazil could be directly attributed to the Sports Minister and officials of the Ghana Football Association (GFA).
The minister and the football association are being cited by critics for the fiasco that marred Ghana’s showing at the World Cup tournament in Brazil.
Allegations of financial impropriety and conflict of interest in the travel arrangements for more than 600 Ghanaian football fans who were airlifted to Brazil have been aimed at the Sports Minister and the GFA officials.
Several pictures emerged of Ghanaian fans housed in less-than-dignifying hostels and struggling for food, with some stranded in Brazilian airports for more than 12 hours.
Following these damning allegations emanating from Ghana’s botched campaign in Brazil, President John Dramani Mahama has announced the setting up of a committee of inquiry to probe the widespread allegations.
The Chief Executive of Kenpong Travel & Tours, Mr. Kennedy Agyapong, in an interview with host of Peace FM’s flagship programme ‘Kokrokoo’, accused Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah of breaching the terms of their contract by personally taking over their responsibilities of providing transportation, feeding and accommodation for the teeming Ghanaian football fans in Brazil.
According to him, after airlifting 270 passengers to Brazil on the ticket of government, the former Sports Minister arrogated to himself some organisational responsibilities at the World Cup.
Also addressing the issue on Peace FM, the Director of Finance at Kenpong Travel & Tours, George Amoako, recounted that even though government authorised his company to fly the supporters to Brazil, organise their internal transportation and also ensure better accommodation, ‘a lot of the arrangements were cancelledthe accommodation for the passengers. It was cancelled and the Ministry said they were going to accommodate the passengers themselves. The arrangement we made for the accommodation were cancelled without proper explanation,’ Mr. Amoako said.
‘For almost one and half months to two months, he (Elvis) refused to answer my phone calls and gave excuses of being busyWhen you call him, he won’t pick up. If you call Adu Asare, he also does not pick up. If you call anybody, they won’t answer the phone. Even one pesewa has not been given to us and even tickets that we issued to them for their own arrangements in Brazil, about $52,000, they’ve not paid.
Whenever we call them, they’re busy. So, they took over the job and that is why we have such financial misappropriation.’
Also reacting to the hullabaloo surrounding the alleged financial misappropriation by the minister and the handlers of the senior team, the Chief Executive Officer of African Origin Travel & Tours, Mr. Sampson Deen revealed that upon reaching Brazil, Hon. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah blacklisted him and his company from any further discussions regarding the wellbeing of the supporters, taking over the job of the travel and tours company.
According to him, the minister constituted a makeshift committee in Brazil and this committee was given an oversight responsibility relating to the World Cup.
The Ghanaian contingent arrived home on Sunday, with a plethora of complaints from fans that were flown to Brazil.
They complained of being housed in leaking rooms infested with fleas. Some of the supporters had allegedly queued to use the toilet.
Ghanaian ace midfielder, Kevin-Prince Boateng described the entire organisation of Ghana’s trip to the globally acclaimed tournament in Brazil as ‘corrupt’.
‘There are a lot of issues revolving (around) this team which Ghanaians don’t know so they say what they feel like. They (officials) are all corrupt and they always want to make money from us without working for it. I know I may not be called into the team again but I’m highly elated that I belong to the anti-corrupt group in the team (Sulley, Dede Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Kwarasey, Kwadwo Asamoah, Essien and myself),’ he told a German newspaper in a no-hold-barred interview late last week.
‘Everything – the hotels, the flights – everything was amateurish,’ Kelvin-Prince Boateng disclosed.
The confusion in the Ghanaian camp eventually deteriorated when the players insisted on getting their appearance fee paid in cash before they played their last match against Portugal.
The match ended in Ghana’s 2-1 defeat, leading to the Black Stars’ ouster from the tournament.
Each player was entitled to a US$100,000 as their appearance fee which was supposed to have been given to the players before the tournament started.
The rancour forced the Ghanaian government to order over US$4 million to be physically airlifted on a chartered plane to Brazil.
The chartered plane was said to have landed in Brasilia with a heavy police escort, and the cash was transported to the team’s Brasilia Palace Hotel amidst live telecast by Brazilian television channels and other international media.
Ghanaian players were seen taking their cash, some stuffing them in their pockets and others wrapping the money in cloth to avoid prying eyes.
Live telecast showed the chartered flight landing on the tarmac, and afterwards several suitcases of cash were seen being ferried out into two bullion vans amidst a heavy security presence.
The spectacle of the cash transportation to Brazil had subjected Ghana to international ridicule, as critics question the rationale of physically transporting players’ entitlements when it could have been electronically wired into their accounts.
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