Ghana 2014: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Africa Football Shop’s Nii Ayittey Tetteh reflects on the last 12 months of Ghanaian football.
To save myself from spitting the contents, I quickly swallowed on the badly mixed cocktail.
Then I scanned the room as I shifted attention to the other invited guests. An end of year ball that was meant to celebrate Ghana football in 2014
looked anything but. Huddled in cliques, guests engaged in small talk.
“In one word, how would you describe Ghanaian football in 2014”, Jordy, a visiting scout asked, completely oblivious of the ‘small’ in small talk.
“Turbulent” I responded.
Jordy smiled mischievously, “Come on Nii, I have followed from afar and it was disastrous!”
My first instinct was to get defensive, but I held my nerve, drained the contents in my glass while I crafted my response. I scanned the room again, this time not casually as before, but carefully fishing out a personality or group to celebrate and put Jordy to his deserved shame.
Three-million dollar shame
Speaking of shame, I don’t know how much honour or pride costs, those are invaluable, but I have a vague idea how much shame costs.
Ghana bought a suit of shame and happily wore it at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
That was six odd months ago when Black Stars players rebelled in dramatic fashion over non-payment of $100,000 appearance fees. It took 3 million dollars plus, cold cash, packed on a plane from Ghana to Brazil to get these players to boot up.
Oh yes, we had a world-wide audience mocking and ridiculing Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana.
With such negative press, it was no surprise Ghana bombed out after losing to Portugal and USA by 2-1 margins. A 2-2 draw with eventual champions Germany was commendable but not enough to save Ghana from elimination and a major taint on her reputation. A reputation so battered, a commission of enquiry had to be set up to investigate the disaster.
My thoughts then drifted back to the present, to the auditorium.
You could tell from the players’ disposition that even they agreed the Black Stars provided little joy in 2014 and couldn’t be celebrated. They looked disoriented. The national adulation and idolatry had evaporated, diffused with contempt and condemnation. The players knew, deep in their hearts, that the Brazil appearance fee saga was a “kpa kpa kpa” movement gone wrong.
Jordy-1, Nii-0 !
Grunsah dies hard
I continued to search the auditorium, hoping for a positive story; just one feel good story.
Without intending to, my gaze fell on man of average height and long white beard. He looked every bit like one of the old sages we read about from ancient times.
Alhaji Grunsah, founder and bank roller of King Faisal FC stood in the middle of the auditorium by himself, almost like a certified Ebola patient, courting little or no company. His seeming snub was no surprise because he had taken a courageous but alienating path in search of justice for his club, relegated at the end of the 2013/2014 season.
In September, Grunsah secured an Interlocutory injunction on Ghana Football Association (GFA)’s annual congress, to preclude them from confirming relegation and promotion of teams and to demand a fresh hearing of King Faisal’s petition earlier filed against Aduana Stars, who had been dismissed, but could yet reverse Faisal’s relegation status.
Per the court action, the Ghana Premier League had been in coma and domestic football saw little or zero activity. However on December 22, an Accra Human Rights court ruled out King Faisal’s plea to place an injunction on the GFA congress, permitting the GFA to hold congress and subsequently fix a date for commencement of the Premier League.
A ray of hope is thus glittering in the sky after all, but the harm caused has had far reaching effects; financial strain on the local teams and players; job losses for media and journalists who cover the local premiership as well as depriving local players the platform to compete for Black Stars shirts.
The list grows and we wait to see how domestic football picks up after suffering a major setback.
Then again, why wait, we should ask Grunsah, he knows a thing or two about dying hard.
One Slap too many
At this point, it was pointless disagreeing with Jordy. 2014 was not only uninspiring it got ugly too.
Ironically, those ugly incidents lightened my mood; I could laugh about our ‘turbulent’ year after all; one filled with one slap after another.
In June, amid the heat of the World Cup appearance fee saga, Black Stars’ player Sulley Muntari slapped management committee member, Moses Armah.
In September, Baffour Gyan, ex Black Stars’ player and brother of Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan, slapped Daniel Kenu, a journalist, for insinuating Asamoah Gyan’s possible involvement in the disappearance of his musician friend, Castro.
Then in October, just when we thought the year was going to end without further incident, the almighty Confederation of African Football (CAF) added yet another slap, albeit figuratively.
CAF banned Ghana from participating in the 2015 Africa Junior Championship for age cheating after it emerged that Isaac Twum, player of Ghana’s national U-17 team, the Black Starlets, failed an MRI test. Twum was deemed overage when he featured in the final qualifier versus Cameroon in September.
As these thoughts filled my mind, Avram Grant, newly appointed Black Stars coach, walked past. Jordy and I exchanged glances. Words unspoken, yet our minds seemed to wonder; could Grant’s appointment be the only positive in a sea of failures?
That image, soon faded when I rubbed my eyes…the ball, the reflection on 2014; the good, bad and ugly, had all taken place in my mind, the Christmas carol in the background, shook me back to reality.
In your reality, you may reflect differently but one thing is certain; football wise, 2014 might be that cocktail worth spitting out.
This feature was originally published, in print, with 90 Minutes.