World Cup Feature: Two sides to every story - why African players shouldn't be blamed for pay disputes

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

It is a privilege to be selected to play for one’s nation at a World Cup but there is a duty on behalf of football associations to ensure that all players are respected.

Three African teams – and especially their players – have been painted in very poor light at this World Cup over issues of appearance fees and bonuses and they are being made carry undue flak.

“Money, money, money had been the refrain by the players, and it is a pity they allowed this to ruin our World Cup,” Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi was quoted as saying by the state-owned Daily Graphic last week.

Cameroon reportedly refused to travel to Brazil until their bonuses were increased. Ghana allegedly threatened to strike instead of fulfilling their final group game against Portugal until they had their $3m collective bonus flown to Brazil and paid in cash; that money was initially promised but not delivered. Nigeria then reportedly refused to train until their bonus money for qualifying to the last 16 the second round was paid.

More ammunition, then, was provided for those who wish to portray footballers as greedy and alienated. It is convenient to paint the players as the bad guys as that keeps the focus off the football associations themselves.

Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was thrown out of the squad before they played Portugal and his interview with Bild in the aftermath was revealing.

“It was a nightmare from the first day to the end,” he said of his World Cup experience. “I never thought that anybody could organise a World Cup so badly – from the flights to the hotels – everything was so amateurish.

“The flight from Miami to Brazil was 12 hours and we were sat cramped in in economy. It was hard on our legs. It may sound a little strange to normal people, but for a professional sportsman it’s unreasonable. At the same time, the president was sat in business [class] with his wife and two children.”

And bonuses are not a uniquely African issue. There isn’t one team at the World Cup who went to Brazil without a guaranteed participation bonus. Germany’s players got their initial €50,000-per-man bonus after defeating Algeria last night and will be taking home €300,000 each if they lift the trophy. Spain were on €720,000 a man for winning the World Cup.

Fifa guarantees payment to each country with rewards ranging from €25.5 million – for the winning side – downward to €5.8m for a group stage exit plus an extra €1m participation fee. The problem comes with the non-delivery of money by the football associations – or even the threat of that.

“These things are normally sorted out before the competition, you can’t keep telling the players the money will come,” Ghana coach James Kwesi Appiah told the press last week. The country’s president, John Drahami Mahama, was eventually forced to step in.

“What we have to do for future World Cups is to ensure that firstly there is an agreement between the players and their national associations for the payments of bonuses,” Fifa general-secretary Jerome Valcke said last week.

This isn’t the first time that African teams have been caught up in rows over bonuses. Nigeria’s 1998 World Cup campaign was derailed by a spat before they crashed out in the second round to Denmark. Togo’s one and only appearance at the finals was overshadowed by a bonus row. “In our FA everyone thinks about their own pockets,” Emmanuel Adebayor said to Radio Frequence1 in 2012.

Cameroon’s players pulled out of an international friendly against Algeria in 2011 following the staging of the LG Cup. No bonuses were paid to the players following the event and as such drastic action was taken through a strike. “What is the quota for players who work for this money that goes into the coffers of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot)? This is the question,” Samuel Eto’o asked Mboafootball in May.

What do players like Adebayor and Eto’o have to gain from another $10,000? They are rich beyond their wildest dreams. Not every international, however, for those nations earns like those two. Having a spokesperson with such sway can be beneficial to voiceless players who would otherwise be ignored. For a player in the Togolese or Cameroonian leagues, a bonus for taking part in the World Cup could be the best earning opportunity of their career and should be treated as such.

There is money within these associations, make no mistake. One colleague tells a story of going to a certain headquarters for the purpose of collecting money on behalf of a player and being confronted with dusty envelopes full of cash which had not yet been sent to players.  Both Ghana and Nigeria’s football associations have been left high and dry by botched sponsorship deals in the past year – with Glo reneging on financial agreements. But that is no excuse – not when Fifa guarantees payment for every participating nation at the World Cup.

“Fifa does not pay before the players arrive for the competition, Fifa pays after,” Kwesi explained. “The government or the FA has to find money to pay and later get it back off Fifa. Once there is a delay in getting it from the government or FA it becomes a problem.”

Four Nigerian officials, including former federation president Sani Lulu Abdullahi, were arrested after the World Cup in 2010 in relation to a missing €5.8m sum that was allegedly misappropriated. Abdullahi has since been cleared of the wrongdoing and recently wrote to president Goodluck Jonathan asking for a Presidential Task Force to investigate the missing money.

“It’s not about being paid reward for anything,” said Appiah. “It’s got to do with an appearance fee, which I think every country pays its players, not just Ghana. It’s a right.”

These players are representing their nation and their people. The least their FAs could do is look after them. There are two sides to every story. “Why did our federation not invest some of the considerable amount of money they had received from Fifa in letting us live this whole experience better?” Boateng asked. It is a question which deserves examination.

Source: Goal.com

READERS COMMENTS

  1. Benny says:

    Nyantaktyi in bussiness class with his wife and two children.The players on their own can pay for bussiness class so as a leader to make peace why not stay in economy class with them.
    You never hear any issues with the European teams with bonuses dusputes,it’s only in Africa.WHY,WHY,WHY……………..
    Everything negative Africa,why why why,………………….
    Until the populace start taking action against the greedy leadership through peaceful demonstration ,voting the greedy ones out,forcing the enforcement of law and order,these menace will always exit.
    Ghana has become a laughing stock ,started with Kwaku Bonsam,then Nyantaktyi and AA.Shame.
    Shocking is the fact that Mahama instead of sacking the sports minister has given him a new position ,unbelievable.

  2. Tanko says:

    All these sports administrators in Ghana are treating the players as if they are secondary school kids and don’t know what they are about. When these players try to explain their stand, these wicked and greedy administrator try to belittle them and calling them names. The players would react to any belittlings and would voice their concerns and the so called administrators would turn around and call them gangsters. Why do u think Muntari reacted like he did? The media also has the share of the blame by reporting that the players action is unprovoked and unwarranted. It is provoked! And it is warranted. If you can not administer properly, the no FA or other organization is permitted either. Nonsensical iffussions.

  3. sami says:

    All these things are happening so that Nyantaktyi hide his own problems . i don’t trust this fool. Oh african football. should stay in africa. please no wc appearance for them anymore. they are not serious.

  4. AkosuaGhana says:

    Luv, luv, luv the word “arrested” in the story. Much better than the “reshuffling” Mahama did with incompetent imbeciles in his government.

  5. Antwi says:

    Whatever we do, however we do it we should bear in mind that posterity will judge us. The injustice an African player (for that matter a Ghanaian player) has to endure from the FA’s media and at times from the coahes and the fans is too much. Does any body remember John Mensah blocking traffic to GFA offices over unpaid bonuses way after the previous World Cup? When they demand their money they are unpatriotic but does anybody in the FA works for free? If they complain about anything they aren’t discipline. Aaabah. They aren’t saints ‘Yes’ but they are also human beings. convenient excuse for our leaders incompetence ‘the youth today are indisciplined’. Hmmm

  6. HI says:

    THE PROBLEM WITH THIS SO CALL LEADERS IS THAT,THEY ARE NOT QUALIFIED FOR THE POSITION THEY JUST BOUGHT IT,I CANT BELIEVE THAT GHANAIANS WLL EVEN TALK NEGATIVES ABOUT THE PLAYERS.IF YOU BUSH PEOPLE WILL GLOLIFY THIS GOOD FOR NOTHING LEADERS, GO AHEAD,WHO CARES ABOUT WHAT ANYONE SAID.THIS PLAYERS ARE RICH THEY DONT NEED GHANA MONEY,BUT TO BE FAIR ,THE MONEY,IS THEIR MONEY THAT THEY WORK HARD FOR IT,.THEY DO NOT HAVE TO KISS NYANTAKTYIS ASSSS FOR IT, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, PEOPLE,GET OVER IT.YOU DONT LOSE NOTHING,, THEY THE ONE WHO WORK THEIR ASSS OFF FOR THIS WC.GHANAIAN LEADERS ARE TOO ARROGANT,FULL OF THEMSELVES.TELL WHICH WHITE LEADERS WILL STEAL HIS COUTRY MONEY AND HID IN AFRICA NEVER.BUT AFRICA LEADERS,LOOK AT GHANA NOW NOWATER,NO LIGHT,NO GAS,DISGRACE,SHAMFUL.

  7. Kissiedu says:

    I always regret of been African cos every tin negative is found in here.I fink greediness were implanted in our genes .we shall continue suffer till thy kingdom come.