With bitterness in my heart, I’m just reading the Government of Ghana’s decision to reward players of the National U-17 World Cup team with $4,000 each.
Despite Ghana being two-time champions in this tourney, this particular team kicked out of the quarter-final stage of the event.
I understand the payment of the bonuses was an agreement reached between the Ministry of Sports and the team. I do not want to believe it was the players decision to ask for bonuses.
I do not want to believe the Sports Ministry actually arranged a meeting with fourteen, fifteen and sixteen year-old kids to finally reach that agreement.
But whoever stood in for the boys, in my opinion, is (are) only interested in making money by hiding behind these lads.
For crying out loud, this is just an UNDER-17 World Cup. This team is an assembly of Junior and Senior High School pupils. These are kids who are minors and presumably not able to decide for themselves.
For this reason, FIFA, the organiZer of the U-17 and U-20 World Cups, does NOT provide prize money to the winning team.
On their Website, FIFA said “it instituted this competition in 1985 with the sole intention of developing young players across the globe and to give budding footballers the opportunity to take part at the highest international level”.
Therefore, FIFA as a body takes care of all the operational cost of the participating teams in the tournament. At the end of each U-20 or U-17 tournament, medals are presented to each of the top three teams in the final competition, i.e. gold medals to the winners, silver medals to the runners-up and bronze medals to the team ranked third. On top of that, a certificate to all deserving players and that is it. Nothing money.
The aim is to inspire these young players to aspire for greater heights. The motivation is development, powered by pure pride. Not monetary reward.
But over the years, the Ghana Football Association, notoriously known for their money-induced thinking, has consistently ill-advised successive governments into destroying these future stars with money.
Everything about Ghana football is money, and that poses a great danger. A very distressing alarm, especially raising minors to think that they play to make money at that level.
For the records, England were the eventual winners of the U-17 World Cup. They had a player of Ghanaian descent, Callum Odoi in their team. Callum and his teammates, some of them Nigerians, Liberians etc, despite winning the gold, will receive ZERO reward from the English government.
The victorious English team won, but played throughout the tournament knowing that there was NO money for them in the end.
They understood they were only miniors, presented with an opportunity to develop their talents and attract the eyes of big clubs where they stand to make money.
The English Sports Ministry DID NOT grant the players and their managers any room to negotiate bonuses or decide financial rewards. But Ghana’s debt-ridden Sports Ministry did.
They say it has been the trend? Trend? Instituted by who? The GFA? Has the GFA got their own money to pay bonuses? NO.
The government of Ghana, must be told that, it is not their responsibility to dip hands into the tax payers money to pay bonuses to U-17 & U-20 players.
Their mandate is to invest in infrastructure, develop the game and regulate sports.
If it is the idea of any Sports minister to embark on this footling move just so they get their own share of the booty, the public will know. But if the sports officers do not know about their mandates, now they know.
For the avoidance of doubt, English U-20 had earlier in the year won the FIFA U-20 World Cup. That victorious team also did NOT get a pesewa from the English FA or Government as bonus.
The English FA had stated that, even if FIFA had given prize money for the U-17 & U-20 World Cups, the body would likely have reinvested the windfall in youth football. Read that again. They would NOT have co-efficiently shared it and chopped. They’d invest in the game, for sustainability. That is a thinking Association in a thinking nation.
When Ghana won the U-20 World Cup 8 years ago, the then government, as ignorant about football as they are, presented these 18 year-olds with brand new cars + $15,000 prize money each, and other rewards.
All funded by the state.
At the time, in the whole of Ghana, there was NOT a single standard football training pitch owned by the state. We invested millions into the individual players and their managers but ZERO into the game.
Citing England in this write up because they won the cups we won and nearly sold national assets to reward kids. Citing England because when we need loans, they’re where we visit. Citing England because when you need to learn, you learn the best practice. Not learn from Togo, Cameroon and Chad.
I do not blame the U-17 players for what they’ve received in their accounts. They are young (if indeed they are), but they are being destroyed. They are being trained to break bottles, slap and go on rampage for their monies when they grow into Black Stars.
The nations that have won the FIFA World Cup. England, Germany, France, Spain etc. These nations that have the best practices, do not provided financial reward to players at the youtt levels. The U-17 and U-20 levels are where they imbibe pride, inculcate the spirit of nationalism and snowball dignity.
That is why they have invested and have the best of sports facilities and infrastructure. That is why we have more rich officials and more mansions that pitches.
That is why their youth players are propelled to achieve, and ours retire at 25.
If this country can dish out close to $100,000 as bonuses to 14 year old footballers, for placing 8th in a World Cup, and that country’s national stadium has been partially closed down because its metals are rusting?
If that country says it is in debt, and as such cannot get money to buy paint for its national stadium, then that country is doomed. No apology.
I thought I would see change. But with sports, and especially football, I have NOT. It is not too late to reverse this horrible trend.
Let’s pretend to agree with the GFA and GoG that money is the best motivation to achieve national team success. Then could we have ever beaten Germany, England, USA at any level? Why are Qatar and Saudi Arabia not champions?
Start to think folks, co-efficient is slowly killing our sport.
By: Saddick Adams SportsObama