AL-SMITH: The Black Stars are paying for disrespecting you, the fans

Tuesday 9th September , 2014 11:36 am
Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew

It takes a certain level of consistent disrespect to get Ghanaian fans to reach tipping point.

Somehow, the current Ghana team has managed it.

These past nine weeks have been difficult for the country’s football. The World Cup disgrace was acutely painful for fans.

And then it has been followed by two weeks of a Presidential Inquiry detailing, in vivid detail, how the taxpayer was financially raped, rapped, and then trapped while the world looks on in interest.

This week was supposed to be succor time; a period where the players came home, accepted their faults, got bashed a bit and then won the fans over by beating Uganda – or at least playing with heart.

Instead, they aggravated the hurt even more.

What were they thinking?

First, the sheer condescension in their utterances.

Andre Ayew, in his infinite wisdom, decided to berate everyone for not understanding why money is important to his teammates and himself.

“Bonuses for any Ghanaian player is deserved. We love our country but we are also working.

“It is our job. Do you know what we have done for people in Ghana?”

“We don’t need to make these things public, we do it from our hearts. We do charity all the time and sometimes not even monies we get from the Black Stars.

“Money is not football and football is not money. Charity or giving out are things we do and we don’t not need to come out and tell everyone what we do.

“The monies in any case are spent in Ghana. The earnings from our clubs are used in Ghana.

“Whether we buy land or use it on our family, it stays in Ghana.”

And then Asamoah Gyan added his bit: “We don’t take the money just for pleasure. We use it on our families and in Africa our friends are part of our families.

“Unlike Europe where a family is just a man, his wife and kids but in Africa it is different. I have a company in Ghana and pay 200 workers. I pay tax.

“We bring cars into this country and the duties we pay are sometimes even bigger than the $100,000.”

Backfiring PR

If the players thought these comments were to assuage fans, they were spectacularly disappointed.

Five minutes to kickoff against Uganda, the stadium was only about half-full.

That is the price the players and management of the team will continue paying until they show true remorse. There have been several apologies made by different members of the playing body and management, but they sound half-hearted.

Somebody should teach the team some standard redemptive behavior.

The entire Black Stars setup is in a mess. And it’s all because they do not respect you – the fans – who make them who they are.

When you wrong your parents, they will get angry. It’s like you’ll get grounded and they will become cold.

To win back favour, you shut the hell up and become extra-good.

All over the world, it is what children do.

Maybe Ghana’s Black Stars feel that because they are not children, this tried and tested rule of getting back into good books does not apply to them.

And it is this lack of recognition of their flaws that is making their people angry.

Kumasi turns cold

It rained on Friday night in Kumasi. In a brief text exchange with one of the Black Stars players, he said he’d put the airconditioner in his room off because it was too cold.

He needn’t have worried about that kind of cold.

He, and the other lads, should worried about the lack of warmth from the people; the city itself.

The Garden City is the undisputed home of Ghana’s national teams, especially this one; the senior men’s team.
After the Uganda game on Saturday, the record is still imperious.

22 games. No losses. 17 wins. 5 draws.

But for the first time in living memory, there is almost universal acclaim at the team’s lack of remorse after a disgraceful World Cup.

The public utterances and actions of the entire setup has been a lesson in how not to avoid confrontational PR. At a press conference on Thursday evening, a journalist asked Asamoah Gyan (whose very good friend has been missing after reportedly drowning late in July) a very insensitive question.

The journalist asked Gyan to substantiate rumours that he had sacrificed Castro – one of the most popular musicians in Ghana now – allegedly for ritual purposes.

Gyan’s anger was understandable.

On Friday evening, this journalist was on his way to watch Ghana’s last training session when he was accosted by thugs.

Reports say Asamoah Gyan’s elder brother, Baffour (a retired Ghana striker himself) had organized the beatings.

Going forward

All these stories may sound isolated and petty, but they have contributed to the unmistakable angst.

Local fans applauded every good move from Uganda, and booed even when Andre Ayew got the leveler. The fans cheered when Tony Mawejje scored, and booed their Black Stars at half time.

This cannot go on if Ghana is to do well in these qualifiers.

The Ghana FA must sort out its mess – And quickly.

By Gary Al-Smith. First published on supersport.com