SÃO PAULO, Brazil – It is inconceivable that anything other than football can grip Brazilian primetime TV in this period, but on Wednesday night, something African did.
After days of agitation, Ghana’s bonus row has ended with the delivery of $3 million – in cash.
The Black Stars rebelled against the team’s managers on Tuesday at the team camp base in Maceió and almost refused to make that day’s trip to Brasilia, where they play Portugal on Thursday.
That demonstration of unhappiness was quickly addressed by the country’s head of state, John Mahama, who promised the team of the impending arrival of the money.
In a move which has garnered worldwide attention, a chartered jet flew three million dollars ($3m) in cash in one hundred dollar bills to Brasilia on Wednesday evening.
The world’s media have reacted in awe at the running episode.
The BBC‘s radio report called it “bizarre”; CNN could only manage “shocking”; ESPN went with “weird” and France 24 asserted that it was “incredible but true”.
The incident caught fire in Brazilian media, whose top outlet Globo followed the landing of the money at the local airport, all the way to the team hotel.
Globo, the television station that produces more soap operas than any other in the world, found time to air this edition of Ghana’s brief soap opera late Wednesday night.
Later, the station splashed photos of the sequence on its website, accompanied by these dramatic details:
“There were 72 Policia Militar, 19 Municipal Guards, 26 Squadron Ground Force Militar, 14 members of the Grupamento de Operacoes Especiais de Brasilia, One Aeronautical Policia (Air Force), 2 Highway Patrol Battalion and an Air Mobile Brasilia Group in the convoy transporting an estimated amount $3.5 million being monies owed to the Ghana World Cup team from the airport through the streets of Brasilia to the team hotel at 8:30pm local time.”
The station went further to get how the money was taken out of the Bombardier aircraft, even managing to even get a snap of defender John Boye kissing his wad of cash after it was given to him, as if to say: “Yeah, baby!”
The movie-style scenes in the South American nation have, however, elicited feelings of disgust and bitterness toward the team back home.
You would find a great many people covertly, or otherwise, hoping for the Stars to be eliminated to save the nation further international ridicule.
Kwami Sefa-Kayi, host of one of Ghana’s most popular radio breakfast shows, expressed disbelief at the whole incident on Thursday morning, calling it “unbelievable stories that defy logic.”
Another statesman, Dr. K.B Asante, one of Ghana’s longest serving civil servants since the 1950s, described the episode as one that is as “humbling in its brazenness as it is crazy.”
But the team themselves, know what damage they have inflicted on their reputations. Perhaps, no one has been more worried than the coach.
“Every coach will not want to be in this situation where players are requesting for money when you have such an important game to play,” Kwesi Appiah said.
“It’s not the best for me. For the past two days I have had sleepless nights. I have not been able to close my eyes,” he added.
“Normally you sort this out before a major tournament. You can’t keep telling the players the money will come when I does not come. It is unfortunate I find myself in this situation.”
Also speaking is his Dutch-based winger, Christian Atsu, likely to get game time against Cristiano Ronaldo’s men.
“It will be bad if we lose because people will assume it is because of the money. Now we will play with everything to win.”
Other worrying matters
The Ghana camp has also been dogged by controversy in the past week, after a UK-based newspaper accused the FA of intent to fix games in the near future, citing video evidence.
On Wednesday, the coach confirmed that a widely rumoured exchange of words between himself and Kevin-Prince Boateng did occur.
This had followed another incident between the German-born player and Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari.
In short, the Black Stars cannot tell give anyone their usual “team spirit in camp is high” line.
That is bollocks.
Facts of the matter
Ghana need to win by two clear goals and hope Germany beat the United States.
But with their minds seemingly focused on everything but the match, public opinion back home suggests they will not be forgiven if they render a shambolic show later on Thursday.
By: Gary Al-Smith/citifmonline.com/São Paulo/Brazil
This piece was first published on supersport.com