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The effort to maximize Ghana’s participation at the 2014 Fifa World Cup yielded only 26,373 cedis.
This deduction came from the testimony provided by the eagerly anticipated appearance of former Youth and Sports minister Elvis Afriyie Ankrah on Wednesday at the Dzamefe Commission.
The former minister spoke to several issues as he was interrogated by the Presidential Commission set up to look into the happenings of the World Cup.
Wednesday’s sitting was day 6 and covered only the preparatory stage of the Brazil 2014 process, therefore everything discussed was centred on what happened before the various delegations emplaned to Brazil.
There were several highlights, including some pricey stuff.
But the quote of the day came in the last ten minutes of the hearings when the former minister was being quizzed about details of accounts.
“My lord, some of your questions are like quadratic equations so it is difficult to answer them yes or no.”
That drew laughter all round, but there were a lot of serious highlights.
Elvis Afriyie Ankrah revealed that there was no formal contract between the ministry and the caterers they employed for the tournament in Brazil.
He explained the three selected caterers were the popular Accra-based joints called Kenkey Boutique, Amber and Muni’s Waakye. These three were given letters to formalize the arrangement between the two parties, a situation which did not sit well with the commission.
Send off party
A farewell ball was hosted by the state for the Black Stars before their departure for pre-tournament games with the Netherlands and the USA in May.
This four hour event cost the taxpayer GHS 188,665.
Afriyie Ankrah explained that the event – which had President John Mahama, prominent ex-footballers and high ranking football people in attendance – was used as a fund-raising initiative.
“We used that platform as an opportunity to auction materials that the president signed with his green pen too,” the sports minister noted of the event held on May 22.
8,700 visas were issued to Ghanaians for #WC2014. Sadly, NONE of Ghana’s former natl team players got visas by sports ministry.
— Gary Al-Smith (@garyalsmith) August 20, 2014
The bank account
Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah confirmed what has been public knowledge that the Ministry of Youth and Sports had a bank account at the Zenith Bank that was used for official World Cup transactions.
Operating under the name MOYS – Brazil Fifa World Cup 2014, the account had four signatories from the sports ministry.
“My Lord, I would like to point out that I was not one of the signatories to this account,” Afriyie-Ankrah clarified.
How much was in the account?
Sponsors and well-wishers were publicly courted by the ministry to help the country in its quest to have a successful World Cup on all fronts. The amount realized, according to the minister, was 4,509,635 cedis ($1.16 million at current rates).
How much was spent?
The commission heard that Ghana spent 4,483,282.89 cedis ($1.21 million), which drew a low whistle from the chairman of the commission. That took the profit the government Ghana made to just 26,373 ($6,800).
How many sponsors contributed to the effort?
Justice Dzamefe challenged the minister on this point, after Afriyie-Ankrah had said only 23 sponsors had contributed to the effort.
Further probing revealed that the number was 41, with the commission asking him to provide further and better particulars later.
But they stopped short of asking him to provide the names in public, due to the possibility of offending some of the sponsors.
Four of the sponsors preferred to remain anonymous. But one key question was: how many supporters did the taxpayer pay to airlift to Brazil?
The Ghana support
This was one of the most intriguing parts of the day, as it was revealed that 612 fans were officially airlifted on the ticket of the government.
It emerged at the sitting that the sports ministry was initially not sure if they could pay for the penciled number.
“There was a lot of pressure for us to send them, and my seniors will tell you that support, motivation and inspiration plays a big role in football so we felt we must take a core group of supporters.”
“That’s official. So what was the unofficial number?” came the response from Moses Foh-Amoaning, a member of the commission.
Elvis responded: “696. At the camp when we took the official roll we realized that some people had managed to get into the camp that the committee did not send.”
Afriyie-Ankrah, having noted already that the camp capacity was 1000 people, pointed out that those who managed to sneak in were Ghanaians as well.
He admitted that the excess numbers were fed and housed by the ministry, saying that a list of all 696 was available.
“You did well [by hosting and housing them because] they were Ghanaians, but systems must work. You can’t tell the whole of Ghana that you are taking 612 and take care of that number.”
Also of interest was the fact that the former minister revealed an estimated 3000 supporters were airlifted to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, a fact which Foh-Amoaning was skeptical about.
Foh-Amoaning: “Are you sure about this? Can you provide proof, files and documentation? Can we have it?”
“Yes, my lord.”
— Gary Al-Smith (@garyalsmith) August 20, 2014
The former minister cleared the air on the thorny issue of the appearance fees wanted by the Black Stars players.
“They had asked for $120,000 [and later the Ministry and the FA] proposed that $100,000 [to be given to them],” Afriyie-Ankrah said.
“The FA brings proposals. We look at the proposals and then I have to take it to cabinet. So it when it got to cabinet said we can do $82,500, which is 10 percent [more than the amounts given] in 2010.”
The commission promised to go deeper into this issue on Thursday.
Other interesting costs
Out of the over four million cedis expended, GHS 1,953,96 was spent on accommodation and feeding in Brazil.
Also revealed was that GHS 16,700 was spent on media relations (which he clarified as not being payment to journalists) and GHS 519,035 on match tickets covering 612 fans.
The commission heard that a mobile application and website together cost GHS 22,857.
Afriyie-Ankrah appears again on Thursday.
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By: Gary Al-Smith/Citifmonline.com/Ghana