Published On: Thu, Jul 10th, 2014

Questions For GFA

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We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated — Maya Angelou.

I Like the confidence and enthusiasm with which the President of the Ghana Football Association, Mr Kwasi Nyantakyi, welcomed the directive by President John Dramani Mahama for investigations into our participation in the ongoing Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The efficiency with which the GFA organised the press conference last week to interact with Ghanaians about one side of the development is refreshing. I am not bothered because the press conference will in no way affect nor endanger the investigations ordered by the President. What is important is that Ghanaians needed to be told something, except that it would have been more functional if the players had also had the opportunity to address the people.

Having the three interest groups- playing body, technical team and management- at the same forum could have helped, since the basic law of nature demands that all sides to an issue be openly heard before judgement is passed.

This also means that all those who claim to have firsthand knowledge about matters must be sincere in their accounts. At least in the matter of which class Mr Nyantakyi and his family travelled, whereas he has confirmed that they travelled business class, some of the eyewitnesses have said he travelled economy. Such deviations could undermine causes.

But I somewhat agree with my friend, Kenteman Nii Laryea Sowah that when press conferences are called and clogged with constraints about the nature, mode and number of questions that any journalist could ask, the beauty and functionality, as well as the sincerity behind the exercise are undermined.

We have to be reminded that a press conference is an open invitation for the media to pry into the affairs of institutions or groups, as the media are there for the public good. Never mind whether the media are biased or otherwise because the utility of the exercise is more in the answers provided, although where questions seem infantile it becomes irritating. But there are no foolish questions but there could be foolish answers.

Indeed, the situation is more frustrating when the person moderating is a media practitioner who has transited into public relations, where the roles and interests are clearly distinct and divergent. Where we are not very ready for the media, there is the alternative of press releases or statements.

Now, there are a number of questions that I would have asked if I were present at the press conference. I heard Mr Nyantakyi say that FIFA pays for 50 people from each participating country and for the officials who have responsibility towards FIFA, their families could be included.

Does that mean that beyond the money paid to the country, FIFA absorbs the expenses of these personnel separately such that if we send fewer people FIFA, and but not Ghana, will make savings? Put differently, would these expenses be taken out of the amount due us from FIFA or it will not be taken out.

Again, if monies paid players, including appearance fees and bonuses, are made public, what makes it impossible to make public the amount paid the management team whether as honorarium or whatever name we want to give it?

Are the players to be treated any less confidentially than the management team members, even though both serve the public interest? If the officials are quick to point out how much the players, for whom football is a full-time job, get, but what the officials, for whom football is only a pastime, get must be treated confidentially, then that is not fair to the public and does not suggest accountability.

Another question, if I heard Mr Nyantakyi well, centred on his information that each of the 50 persons catered for by FIFA was given a daily per diem of $750. Unless the money was paid for accommodation solely, then my question is who paid for the two cooks he said they carried with them from Ghana and the food they prepared?

Furthermore, we need to be told how much FIFA pays in appearance fees. This will enable us to have productive, functional and meaningful debate as to whether our football players are reasonable or otherwise in their demands.

It will also offer us a basis of comparing the contributions of the footballers to the national kitty as against similar contributions from other nationals, including security personnel who risk their lives in peace-keeping operations under the aegis of the United Nations but have to take a small percentage of the income and leave the bulk to the state.

Finally, when some of us complained of the excessive bonus of $15,000 paid after the home match against Egypt, we were described as not appreciating the sacrifices of the Black Stars players. May be as a country, we did not properly assess the importance of the players when we offered them the $82,500 they rejected.