On Wednesday evening, Globo-TV cut live to a motorcade winding into Brasilia. It was headed to the hotel housing the Ghanaian national football team.
They were bringing along $3-million, in cash. These were the World Cup bonuses due to Ghana’s players. The team refused en masse to accept a wire transfer.
They threatened that if the money was not delivered to them before today’s crucial game with Portugal, they might not play. The Ghanaian president jumped on the phone to reassure the players, then had the cash flown to Brasilia for distribution.
There is a long history of African teams warring with their governments over World Cup bonuses. A similar row once seemed that it might prevent Cameroon from competing here (and, for the sake of Cameroon’s dignity, would that it had).
However, it’s unusual to be going on so late in the day, especially when a vital match is at hand. Ghana are also the only African team with a chance of making serious inroads at this competition. It seems like an odd time to be squabbling over the pay cheques.
That sense of disarray vastly increased Thursday morning when it was announced that two of Ghana’s biggest stars had been thrown off the team.
Kevin-Prince Boateng was ejected for a verbal tirade against team manager Kwesi Appiah during training. Ali Sulley Muntari was turfed for apparently assaulting a member the Ghanaian football federation.
Muntari was already suspended for Thursday’s match with two yellow cards. Boateng has been a peripheral presence in any case.
Both incidents happened earlier in the week, according to the Ghanaian FA. Presumably, they wanted to calm the rest of the roster with a big stack of money before they torpedoed two of the country’s biggest stars.
The beneficiary in all this might be the United States.
Ghana are still in with a very decent chance of advancing if they beat Portugal, and the U.S. loses to Germany.
This does not sound like a team in the right headspace to win a game. Now, or any time in the near future.