The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mahama Ayariga has dismissed suggestions that the senior national team, the Black Stars should not participate in the 2015 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) since the findings from the Dzamefe Commission have not been presented to the government yet.
The Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the issues surrounding the participation of the Black Stars at the World cup in 2014, concluded sitting in September but is yet to present its findings and recommendations to the government.
There have been calls for the team to be pulled out of the tournament until the findings of the commission are made known and any recommendations are implemented. However, according to Mr. Ayariga, the country has learnt enough lessons from observing the Commission’s work to prevent a recurrence of the “embarrassing” issues that marred the team’s participation at the World Cup in Brazil.
“I believe all these months of the discussions that we’ve been having have taught all of us what is right and what shouldn’t be done. We have learnt, we are waiting for the commission’s report for additional learning and direction and I assure you that going forward we will work diligently that everybody involved fulfills his part,” Mahama Ayariga said on the Citi Breakfast Show on Friday. “We cannot afford not to participate in tournaments that we have to participate in.”
He argued that some of the recent changes that had been made in the management of the team’s affairs were made based on information gathered from the Commission’s sittings.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports proposed a new bonus package for the senior national team in December to replace the tiered bonus package, which paid incremental wining bonuses for each game won as the tournament progressed.
The new proposal states that each player will receive a flat match appearance fee of $5,000 per game regardless of the outcome or which stage of the tournament they get to.
And, according to Mahama Ayariga, these changes point to steps being made to improve the management of the Black Stars.
“Since the Commission’s sitting we have reviewed the management of cash at the various tournaments. Even during the qualification stages [for the 2015 AFCON], some of the questions that the Commission asked the management team informed the way that we’ve done things. We give them cheques for their monies here. We make sure that the various issues that the Commission raised with them we will make an effort not to repeat them,” he opined.
He assured that the government had learnt lessons from the mistakes that were made in Brazil and stated that calls for the Black Stars to pull out of the AFCON are misplaced.
“I think that if as a country, between August and January, we are going into a tournament and we haven’t been able to figure out from this widely publicised process, what went wrong, what shouldn’t be repeated to go into another tournament it means there are serious deficiencies issues in relation to our decision making processes. So I can assure you that a lot of leaning has taken place and we are going to avoid a repetition of things that happened [in Brazil],” he said.
Government response to appearance fees demands in Brazil ‘key’ According to the Sports Minister, the government’s quick response to the Black Stars players’ demands for the payment of their appearance fees in Brazil was a key moment in Brazil.
The government received widespread criticism for flying 4 million dollars to Brazil to pay the appearance fees of the Black Stars players who were threatening to boycott their last game at the tournament against Portugal.
However, Mahama Ayariga said the government’s timely response to prevent the players’ boycott of the game was a major moment adding that they were committed to ensuring that payments are made on time to players to prevent any such distractions in Equatorial Guinea. “The key issue regarding that tournament was the timely release of funding. That, in my opinion, was the underlying cause of all that happened and this time we are working to ensure that every fund that ought to be released is released timeously to make sure that the team gets whatever they need to participate so that issues about the management of funds doesn’t distract the players,” he said.
The Black Stars will be competing in the 2015 AFCON which kicks-off from January 17 to February 8 in Equatorial Guinea.