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Taped by mini-disc July 5th, 3:35 p.m. 18.21 min ** Declan Hill: Tell me, is there any chance of Ghana winning the World Cup in 2010? Kwesi Nyantakyi: It's possible; everything is possible under the sun. And once we make it to the competition, then it means that we become a potential candidate to winning the championship. DH: But do you have the same infrastructure as team like Brazil, Italy or France?
KN: Yeah, I'm saying this on account of the previous experience we had at our first World Cup; and I think that there's some mental infrastructure that ... with the performance with the team at the World Cup the impression nowadays is that we are capable of even doing better than that. And so if can build on that modest achievement I believe that we stand a chance of doing well at this World Cup. DH: What can you and the other officials do better than you did the last time?
KN: I think from the point of view of officialdom, I think that our role basically is management function, which involves managing players, planning matches and programs, coordinating activities, motivating players, and organizing the whole setup of the team, human resources, material resources and everything. I think we have gained some experience, we may have made mistakes in the course of doing all this, checking our responsibilities, and I think we will do them better. DH: What kind of mistakes did you make?
KN: I do not have a yardstick to measure what I did the last time against. But I believe that with experience I've gained we are now in a better position to decide the campaign, better campaign places for the team. We are just moving into places without knowing much about the places. A place that really impressed me during our build up to the World Cup was Champanese (sp?) Resort in Leicester. I didn't know anything about the place, but I believe that next time around we want to send the team there, with that knowledge we had. We took the team to Kenya during the qualification to the World Cup, it was all paid out, but it turned out to be very useful. We also... the bonus system; we paid bonuses, we had bonuses, and it turned out to be very beneficial, and we want to repeat the same those during the qualification to the World Cup. I think with the experience we gained we can now manage expectations of players better. When [Michael] Essien was reported to have gotten injured in Chelsea we asked the coach; before that we asked the coach to go and negotiate with Mourinho about release of players. I think the next time around we may do it ourselves, because it created more problems after the coach went and left, we would have solved all the problems at a go. DH: You and the players had meetings about salary during World Cup?
KN: Yeah, that was a very hectic meeting that we had with our players. It was an occasion that's determine the success or failure of the team, because Togo had failed in the negotiation. We had a free and frank and fair negotiation with our players about bonuses. Because they had read on the internet about bonuses being paid out to their colleagues on other teams. And so it was a negotiation, 'how much do you demand', 'how much can we pay', 'what were the concentrations that informed your decision.' And it was a free talk, everybody spoke his mind, we also spoke our mind, at the end of it there was a compromise, so we had to pay them some amounts of money for the
Interview Notes with President of the GFA World Cup, which we dutifully did. DH: How much in the end was agreed, for appearance fees and bonuses?
KN: The appearance fee was by match, bonuses were also paid by match. I don't remember the details, but we paid about, it was on a progressive scale; ten thousand, twenty thousand, thirty thousand dollars, something like that. And there were appearance fees that would be about fifty thousand dollars per match. Those were negotiated and paid after the World Cup, in Ghana. DH: Did you hear anything about gamblers buying games? KN: Ghanaian players. I never heard it, but it's possible. In every competition you find gamblers around. Yes, every competition. Every competition, they are there. And so, one of the things we did was to prevent people, unauthorized persons, from getting to the rooms of the players; but I'll not rule out the possibility of contacts being made by gamblers. Even last week when we played Iran in a friendly match gamblers were at the team, they bribed, they gave money to our players, they did it to one of our assistant coaches, and he also got his share. We have suspended him, and referred the matter to our disciplinary committee. It's a serious, and that's we heard about, but we had, with precautionary measures in place for our institutions like that. DH: How much did the coach get paid?
KN: What happened? We don't know how much the coach took for the work he did. But the coach led an official of a gambling company to see the players one by one on an individual basis; and the players were paid a thousand dollars, and the coach took five hundred dollars as his commission, from each of the players. We heard about six players. So he got about three thousand dollars worth, each player got about five hundred dollars each (laugh). DH: Is this normal?
KN: Yeah, it's done all the time, at major competitions; World Cup, Cup of Nations. Not only in African competitions. The gamblers are usually; they are not Africans. They are Europeans and Asians. So they have a lot of money to bet on these occasions. So they do these things. So I believe at Europe competitions, Asian competitions, these people are around to ply their trade. DH: Do you see them in hotels?
KN: I have never seen them, I've only heard about them. They may not necessarily have to come to the hotels, some body have agents, who establish links, and then they do their business. Even at the World Cup in 1991 when we won the under-17 World Cup, there were gamblers around, offering a lot of moneys to the team to throw away the match; and in fact we were playing Italy (laughs). DH: Have you heard of a team selling a game, aside from this coach?
KN: The National team, no; but in 1991 there was a possibility that people try to buy the - some of the matches, and I think these are related to gamblers. DH: How do you make transition from a good team to a world class team?
KN: I think that in terms of materials, we do have the materials. It is the psychological buildup, and a realization of self-confidence and belief, that we are capable of doing it; because the major leagues in the world, has some of our players, the Michael Essiens the Stephen Appiah what have you. So why can somebody like - what is his name, the guy who scored the second goal for Italy against Ghana? Yeah, yeah, he plays the same team with Asamoah Gyan. Yeah, yeah, he won the World Cup. Why is Asamoah
Interview Notes with President of the GFA
Gyan not capable of winning the World Cup? It's just a psychological buildup, because they all play Europe, they are exposed to the same facilities, and they are all rated almost equally; so it is a psychological buildup that has to be done, to let them realize that we are also capable of winning the World Cup, and I think that's a belief, it's now dawning on the players; before we went to the World Cup, that confidence was not there. But they went and they realized that the World Cup stage was no different from when they played Europe. And I believe in 2010, the... tables, the tables will be even, and Ghana, and for that matter Africa, will have an equal chance of winning the World Cup. DH: Does your mind – as a football official - have to change as well?
KN: Yes, yes. It's just not the players, but all of us, all of us, and we have to work towards that. And I believe that if you associate with mediocrity, and just consign yourself to the lower leagues, and think that you have some inferiority complex you remain so. You must assess yourself, and reassure yourself that you are among the best and so you have to work towards attaining the best. And I think that will influence all our decisions. It will influence our relations with players, it will influence our bonus and reward system for the players, it will influence our relationship with the coaches, and the staff; and it will also influence team organization, even the kind of matches that we need to play. We will no longer be calling, or admitting friendly matches with countries like - excuse me to say - Benin, or Cape Verde. We'll be going for the best. Before the World Cup, it will appear a remote possibility that Ghana will play Brazil in a friendly match. But now we are going to rub shoulders with them. We thinking about playing with France, Germany, England, big soccer nations, you know? In the past, we will be thinking about mediocre teams. DH: Ghana journalists told me that there were prostitutes in the Ghana players rooms the night before the Brazil match? KN: No, I don't think so; because I saw the white ladies outside the premises of our hotel, on the eve of our match with Brazil; but nothing suggested to me that they were prostitutes. It was just two or so players who stood with them, and chatted. And I asked them why they were standing there, I told them to go back to their rooms, because it was not proper to be loitering around at that time, when you had a big game, you know? DH: This is 2:00 in the morning?
KN: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah; but I didn't see any of them follow any player to his room, and I don't even know whether they were prostitutes. Doesn't mean that if I meet a woman at two A.M. she's a prostitute, I mean, that is a hasty conclusion to reach. But, it was all over Ghana, and it was just a rumour. DH: There were, then two meetings about salary and bonuses? One before the Italy game and one before the Brazil game, is that correct? KN: Yeah, yeah. We had a meeting uh... where were we, Scotland, we played I think Glasgow, or Edinburgh, we played a match there with South Korea, we had a meeting with them; then we had another meeting in Wurzburg. Yeah, it's two. DH: How would you characterize those meetings? Were there arguments, fights in meetings, or just negotiations? KN: They were negotiations. It was give and take. They were making demands, and we were rebuffing the demands, and also explaining why we couldn't meet their demands; but in the end we reached a middle way, and the two parties were satisfied. And the negotiations involved all the players, not just the leadership, everybody was there. The captain, who usually not meet management and go and report, he said that in the past he had been accused of not really articulating their interests, so he wants everybody to be there. If you have views you have to express, you express it there. Sometimes, these negotiations, you just have to be patient. They may say things that will provoke you, but you just have to be patient, you know? DH: How will you deal with that differently in the future?
Interview Notes with President of the GFA
KN: In future... I think that negotiations will be done before the competition, well in advance, so that we do not go into a competition, and half-way through we start negotiating. You have to do it well in advance, and secure the upper value for whatever we're going to pay them. DH: Some of the players say they were angry about not knowing how much they were to be paid while they were playing games in the tournament? KN: No, that didn't happen. We knew exactly what they were going to earn. They also knew, even before the first game. So there was no such uncertainty about how much they were earning. It's not true. DH: What is your biggest challenge in terms of youth development?
KN: We have a four year development plan, and one of the key components of the development plan is youth development. We are developing the game in three age categories, under twelve, under fifteen, and under seventeen. And our challenge is to ensure a sustainable development of talent right from the youth level to the senior level, and this requires some financial investment, because you put money in these things and you don't see the returns immediately. And we are trying to organize money from sponsorship. It's not been easy; so funding is really a key challenge here. DH: Are you dancing with the devil, by allowing the European soccer teams to take the Ghanaian players at such young ages? KN: Yeah, I think that in the absence of resources to develop the players locally, that appears to be the only option. It has it's advantages because these young players are exposed to the highest standards of football ethics... football... excellent football pitches, excellent eating and dietary habits are created there, excellent foods are provided, excellent training regimes. You really are developed into a true professional footballer. At the same time, there is a tendency for you to miss your culture... the cultural background that you need to develop as a youth, you may lose that. You are more or less thrown into some modern slavery and access to you is so restrictive. So it has its advantages and disadvantages, but I think that we will have to contend with that until said time that we have our own moneys. So for the mean time that is it. DH: Thank you.
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