The year 2015 has been one of the busiest years for football in Ghana and there have obviously been ups and downs. From the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea through to the Ghana Premier League and the World Youth Championship to the triumph of the Black Queens at the All African Games, certain personalities have been exposed to the sword of the mouth.
We take a closer look at the five most insulted football personalities in the country.
- GFA President Kwesi Nyantakyi: The President of the Ghana Football Association tops the list of the most insulted football personalities in the year 2015. He has always been the most criticized sports personality in the country but 2015 took a different dimension. The remnants of the abysmal performance of the Black Stars at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was still fresh in the minds of most football enthusiasts coming into the year 2015.
Nyantakyi was always at the center of discussions with most journalists personalizing issues rather than being professional. We heard journalists saying ‘Nyantakyi y3 nipa foo paa’ [Nyantakyi is a foolish person] and others saying ‘Nyansa biara nni ne tirim’ [He has no wisdom in his head]. This was one of the dimensions of journalism in the country in the year 2015. He was chastised for the delay in the start of the 2014/15 league.
He was insulted and called all sort of names even as the Black Stars got to the finals of the 2015 Afcon.
There came the gift of the Jeep Cherokees. Kwesi was castigated for the gesture even though we are told it was an act of benevolence from the CEO of the company that undertook that venture.
Just after the issue of the Jeep Cherokees was dying down, the Governement White Paper on the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry was released. Another period sleepless night for the young football administrator. Critics turned criticisms into insults while sympathizers turned mourners. The insults the gentleman received within the period alone could have turned the football world in the country onto positive strides if they were suggestions.
We must also recall that in the course of the league, Accra Hearts of Oak protested against Kumasi Asante Kotoko for using Obed Owusu in a game when they felt he was not qualified to play. The legal tussle invited all sort of comments and the sharp mouths descended on the gentleman again. Many criticized him for not putting up very strong legal systems to handle matters of that nature while others insulted him for only appointing his cohorts to handle offices at the federation irrespective of their qualification.
Then the issue of the FA Presidential elections came along. With no contestant, the gentleman went unopposed for the position of President for the 3rd time in the history of the federation. The process was frustrated by some members of the football family who barred the election from taking place on a number of occasions. Despite the frustrations, the Ghana FA Boss was exposed again to the whip of the mouth for manipulating the delegates who voted for him to go unopposed. Many insulted him for conniving with the delegates to get his way out. He was described a thief, a tyrant and a Mugabe who was only interested in power and not the development of the game.
The learned lawyer also became the chewing stick of many when the British High Commissioner Jon Benjamin made a popular comment that officials of the Ghana FA were luxuriously enjoying monies from FIFA when in actual fact those monies must be used to build football infrastructure. This comment opened the flood gates for more insults to be rained upon the former Administrative Secretary of the Ghana League Clubs Association [GHALCA]. The mention of he being a thief became a common call on the lips of a lot of people with many insisting that he has maneuvered and manipulated the other executive committee members who have been supporting him blindly.
- Ibrahim Saanie Dara: Next on the list of the most insulted football personalities in 2015 is the Deputy General Secretary and Communications Director of the Ghana Football Association. The resilience of the young man is always admirable as he has always been at the receiving end. Representing the FA in terms of managing its communications, Saanie Dara has been insulted directly and indirectly by a section of the media for what I consider as a mere act of ignorance and a disregard for the ethics of the profession of journalism.
The former BBC top sports journalist first came under the knife when he called on the government to ban free-to-air television from telecasting live European matches. He was chastised and lambasted by a section of the media for making a call some of us felt was in the right order.
The dispassionate ex-sports journalist again in an interview on Starr FM asserted that some of the radio stations that broadcast in the local dialect pass negative comments about the league, yet they secure sponsorship with the same product they run down. As a result, he believes they must rather transform their negative pronouncements about the league and make it attractive.
The former Choice FM journalist was again given the backlash for making such a call with some twisting the comment to suit them and raining insults on him thereafter. I was shocked to have listened to the original interview in which the gentleman said some radio stations but when the voice was played on some media outlets, the word ‘some’ was nowhere to be found. Could that be mischief?
- Asamoah Gyan: The Black Stars captain has arguably been the most criticized footballer in Ghana since 2008. Missing a penalty at a younger age of 23 in the 2008 Afcon hosted in Ghana almost thwarted the career of the seemingly most influential sports personality in Ghana today. But the young man has grown through it to missing another against Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The criticisms suddenly changed into insults as the young man indicated that the Black Stars were not going to accept the bonus slash the Sports Minister has hinted. Passion took the seat relegating professionalism to the background exposing the Shanghai SIPG striker to massive insults. Even though it was professional to question the loyalty and patriotism of the players at that time, it was unprofessional to say they have done nothing for the nation and must quit if the kitchen is too hot for them. As if that was not enough, the number of penalties missed by the former Sunderland striker was drummed with the insults centering on that.
Meanwhile, Sarah Kwablah had also reported the striker of raping and sodomizing her which intensified the insults. The young man who has always applauded his critics for making him stronger could not stand the insults as he retaliated by describing the lawyer of Sarah Kwablah as a lunatic. The case also took a different dimension with many chastising the striker for being sexually promiscuous. Even though that case is still in the claws of the legal luminaries of the nation, the Black Stars skipper has received a heavy backlash to be the third most insulted player in 2015.
- Togbe Afede XIV: Fourth on the list is the Board Chairman of Accra Hearts of Oak, Togbe Afede XIV, Paramount Chief of Asorgli and the President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs. I am very sure that if Togbe had known that football would expose him to be insulted by people he may consider ‘nonentities’, he would have said no to the offer to become the board chairman of the Accra giants.
Togbe is on the list as the fourth most insulted personality in 2015 for the way he has handled the Oak family. Even though some of the comments gathered appear to be criticizing him, most ended up insulting the person of the CEO of the World Trade Center, Accra. As said by the man himself during the Annual General Meeting of the club, the man got fed up with the insults and wanted to hand over the team to ‘real’ Phobians to run their club. But he named his prize. ‘Buy my shares and take over your club’, Togbe said.
The performance of the club in the 2014/15 Premier League invited unpalatable comments for the respected Togbe Afede with claims that he is running the club from his pocket thereby thronging them into a dungeon of troubles.
The recruitment style of the club toward the 2015/16 season also added more salt to injury as a section of the Phobian family staged a series of demonstrations and press conferences to register their displeasure at the manner in which the club is being managed.
The board chairman also took the backlash when Japanese trainer Kenichi Yatsuhashi was appointed the head coach of the Phobians. All the criticisms turned into insults when it turned out that the trainer was taking up a job in Africa for the first time as well asbeing the first time he will be coaching a professional club.
Even though the Managing Director of the club, Gerald Ankrah was at the center of the controversy that surrounded the transfer of some players from the club including mercurial midfielder Emmanuel Hayford, the Board Chairman was at the receiving end for appointing incompetent personnel to manage the affairs of the club.
- Mahama Ayariga: Many might have forgotten this gentleman. He is currently the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology. He topped the list at the beginning of the year but lost the slot to the Ghana FA Boss after he was moved from the Ministry of Sports. The former Sports Minister invited the wrath of some journalists for a famous comment made upon the return of the Black Stars from the 2015 Afcon in Equatorial Guinea. The Sports Minister who felt it was inappropriate to ask about the budget of the team upon the return of the team after losing the trophy to eventual winners Cote d’Ivoire through the lottery of penalty kicks told the journalist to ask proper questions and that sparked the engine of insults. The Honourable Member of Parliament for Bawku Central was really shown his real size. A section of the media took the entire issue personal and insulted the intellect of the then Minister of Sports with some calling for his head instead of looking at the merit and demerits of the comment made. Ayariga became the chewing stick of a section of the media and the topic for a couple of weeks was not about the exploits of the Black Stars at the Nations Cup, rather the Minister’s comment.
I believe you have seen the trend. If you are thinking of going into full time football administration, then prepare for the backlash because some football football journalist in Ghana are more passionate than professional.
By: Sheikh Tophic Sienu @desheikh1 on twitter
For more Ghana football news visit www.ghanasoccernet.com