Former Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah almost shed tears on Thursday during the seventh sitting of the commission set up to investigate Ghana’s participation at the World Cup in Brazil.
A tearful and emotional Elvis Afriyie Ankrah told the Justice Dzamefe Commission that he felt “devastated” by how much the country’s efforts were thwarted by the issues of bonuses.
This was after Justice Dzamefe asked him how he felt when the Black Stars refused to attend two training sessions before their match against Portugal.
Elvis Afriyie Ankrah responded, “My Lord, they were assured that they would definitely get the money before the next match.
“They are professionals and know very well that they had to train adequately to win matches.
“Eventually, even though the money came on the eve, they still got the money but by not preparing for the match they couldn’t deliver.”
He continued: “The Black Stars resolved not to train ahead of their crucial encounter with Portugal if their appearance fees were not paid.”
The Minister then became emotional and appeared to shed some tears.
This prompted Justice Dzamefe to put the hearings on hold for about ten minutes to allow the former Sports Minister to compose himself.
Payment of appearance fees
Asked why he could not push players to accept the initial $82,500 appearance fee, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah said: “The issue of the appearance fee came up, my Lord, and that is why the leadership of the team – captain Asamoah Gyan, Sulley Muntari, and Michael Essien who speak for the players – made a formal request that the $82,500 approved by Cabinet was not acceptable to them.” He gave the following reasons:
- FIFA had increased the prize money from the last World Cup;
- They were the ones who toiled and sweated on the field to get the team to the World Cup;
- They also referred to the status of former players;
- their colleagues from other countries like Cameroon were being paid about $120,000 as appearance fee.
Airlifting of $3 million – could it have been avoided?
On the issue of airlifting of $3million to pay the Stars in Brazil, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah explained to the Commission that the money could not have been transferred to Brazil because of a 17 percent bank charge.
He further said financial transactions in Brazil are very difficult and it involved some security measures.
“After doing everything I had no choice than to involve National Security but to the details, I will prefer to talk in camera.”
Prove my wrongs – Elvis dares
The Former Youth and Sports Minister told the Commission that he was still at a loss as to why people would level all sorts of allegations against him without providing evidence.
He dismissed reports that he had spent Ghanaian taxpayers’ money, and that his wife was the only caterer contracted to cook for the supporters in Brazil.
“My Lord, all the caterers were carefully selected and I believe that the heads of the various committees we set up will provide the appropriate answers.
“My Lord, I also want to state that my mother never participated in the sale of replica jerseys as was alleged”.
He went on: “People also alleged that I was distributing money [dollars] on the hips of Brazilian women. I never did such a thing, my Lord.”
He further challenged anyone with evidence of his misappropriating taxpayers’ money to come forward.
Elvis Afriyie Ankrah made suggestions to the Commission on what he thought should happen in future instances which included:
- committing players to a Code of Ethics to ensure discipline
- paying appearance fees to players via electronic means to avoid the transfer of liquid cash over long distances
- qualifying matches for tournaments should also be considered when calculating appearance fees so that players who played active roles in getting the team to a main tournament would also be rewarded
- revising who gets paid an appearance fee because it is sometimes unfair to those who play to qualify for the country to World Cup and yet are not selected to play. (Afriyie Ankrah gave Jerry Akaminko as an example of a player who did well and yet did not qualify to play for his nation in Brazil)
- government must not be directly involved in sending supporters to any international tournament.
The Commission continues sitting on Monday, August 25.