So it is all over?
I am talking about the Nations Cup tournament that brought a lot of excitement to many, boosted the business of some and gave others new business opportunities and yet still, others an opportunity to perpetuate fraud. Yes fraud.
At the peril of been insulted, threatened and making enemies for myself, I have said it and many others know what I am talking about. How many people went to the stadium and actually bought the tickets at the face value printed on them. For every single match, my household had to buy tickets at sky rocket rates, and you ask yourself those who had the tickets and selling including radio and TV presenters, who were their suppliers... Ghana Commercial Bank, ADB or Ghana Post? Obviously not.
And that is why I join in calling for a probe into the activities and operations of the Local Organising Committee and whoever or whichever organisations were involved in the ticket mess-up and perpetuation of fraud against the people of Ghana.
I doff my hat for Nana Duncan of the Ghana Commercial Bank for coming out strongly and boldly to challenge the LOC over claims that the match tickets were available at the bank’s branches. The truth as boldly and publicly blurted out by Nana Duncan was that they had less than 4,000 tickets for example for the Ghana- Nigeria game.
4,000 tickets only for a 40,000-seater stadium? Where were the rest of the tickets? Who was the source of the tickets that were been sold by some sports presenters and female ticket racketeers? Are we to believe that it was the GCB, ADB & Ghana Post that passed them on to agents to sell at cut-throat rates?
The Gh¢15 tickets were sold for between Gh¢50 and Gh¢65 while thee Gh¢4 went variously from Gh¢10 to Gh¢30.
Thank God the level of enthusiasm of the fans and visitors was sustained and we kept on buying the tickets at such horrendous rates, but the fraudsters must be grabbed. And I hope the claim now going through town that some strong room was broken into and tickets stolen is not true. If it is, I will urge the Honourable Elizabeth Ohene who I personally know has worked hard to help manage what would have been some embarrassing moments and also the Honourable O. B. Amoah to ensure that the truth of all these issues come out and are well handled.
Prior to this tournament, I wrote a number of pieces and lamented how sad it was that we have been unable to harness the opportunities that come with hosting events of this nature. I touched on the issue of tourism and laughed off when there were claims that at least one million visitors are expected in Ghana.
I also complained about what were glaring signs of poor organisation on the part of the LOC. And I wasn’t alone. Many others raised very pertinent issues including the lack of entertainment to go along with the games. But here we were, saddled with an LOC that instead of spreading their wings and bringing on board experts to advise and help execute specific areas of their activities chose to, with masquerading hangers on and cronies, do things their way. That explains why entertainment for example was a fiasco save the MTN concert prior to the opening match. Is it therefore any wonder that some participating countries came and rather sold their culture and entertainment forms to us, here in Ghana?
Some people assumed rather surprisingly that just because Ghanaians would wake up and get consumed by the fever, it amounts to good organisation. And there we were. Some would prefer to play it down for one reason or the other, as the Camerounian liaison officer did after Otto Pfister’s outburst, but the truth is that, Mr. Pfister was just not talking or blowing hot air.
If he had said what Le Roy said about the Accra stadium pitch, we would have heard the same reactions, but when it was our coach, we accepted it. Is it not true that lacklustre planning and checking of line items ensured some massive failures including teams getting stranded at airports, team baggage not arriving etc? Yes, a number of things were lined up, but was sleeping a hostel the best for a football team, especially in Tamale where there were no other forms of relaxation, gym etc?
Did the South Africans camp in Tamale or anywhere in Ghana? Thanks to the BBC I got to know that they were camping in Burkina Faso and flying over for their match in Ghana. Isn’t that legendary? Let no one suggest that they are braggarts because like I said, every team will want the best and without the requisite logistics and ambience, they had no choice.
Listening to the BBC and other networks, you get to hear some sad aspects of the tournament that you do not want to hear. But in between the times it comes up, and you can’t really blame the reporters. When the Cameroonians rejected one of Accra’s best hotels for instance, many were those who chastised them, but you can fault them. Their rejection of the Alisa hotel and decision to settle for Novotel was not because they were convinced Alisa was a bad hotel. It was a simple case of ‘we don’t want any further surprises after our previous experiences’... and Novotel is an international name they know, hence the decision.
If they asked others who lodged in Alisa, they will be told it’s a great place, but in certain situations you would not have the time and patience to go asking questions.
Talking about the BBC, it is little wonder a deputy minister for information is reported to have urged Ghanaians not to listen to the British funded BBC and also the pro- America CNN. Why? Because they kept reporting that our president’s attempt at mediation in Kenya was a failure. That was my senior colleague’s reason for asking us not to listen to them. Maybe they rubbed it in a little, but were they saying what was true? Or he wanted us to go with the lies put out by the Ghana News Agency that President Kufuor actually met the two fueding ‘old men’ together when the whole world knew that was not the case.
The reporter and his superiors should have been summoned to explain the basis of those lies in an international syndicated piece that greatly embarrassed the president. That GNA piece was very unfortunate and rather than chide the BBC, we should come back home and watch what we allow to be said about government, the president and our activities.
The BBC for instance gave us fantastic coverage of the tournament and together with the Supersport team from SA, produced and promoted Ghana in a manner that none of the TV stations here did. Their side reports about what was going on in Ghana and the linkages were just brilliant to listen and they ensured that the name Ghana and what was going on here enjoyed world wide coverage and at many times during the day.
The few visitors we had in Ghana together with the teams and other officials took nothing away from Ghana unless they listened to the BBC or watched the Superport channel. Then you ask yourself what were our TV stations doing? And as for radio commentaries... hmmm!!
Let me end by saying that our boys played hard, they really fought and deserve to be congratulated. I believe that we could have gone to the final if the right things were done, including selecting the best and fit players available. And I agree with those who say we lost the match on technical grounds and that is true.
I am not exactly for the coach to be sacked but I find a number of his decisions and selection worrisome. But hey! People have every reason to criticise a team and that is why people like my colleague Randy Abbey should not be comfortable with his current position and question why people are criticising the players especially Gyan A. If he deserves to be criticised, why not? And Mr. Abbey should know that better, considering that he’s been a sport presenter before.
By Xoese DOGBE
Managing Editor, dailyEXPRESS Newspaper