Cash-strapped Ghana wants advance on World Cup prize money

2014-06-26 08:43

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Brasilia, Brazil – Ghana’s cash-strapped football association has asked for an advance on the $8 million (R84 million) prize money it is guaranteed from the World Cup to pay outstanding debts to players.

Fifa said yesterday that Ghana’s request was “under evaluation”.

Fifa’s statement appeared to contradict Ghana’s deputy sports minister, who said that as much as $3 million in cash would be flown into Brazil from the west African nation to finally pay the bonuses to unhappy players and avert a possible player strike.

It wasn’t clear how Ghana would bring such a large amount of cash into the country without declaring it and paying tax on it in line with Brazilian law.

World Cup prize money – which ranges in Brazil from $8 million for being knocked out in the group stage to $35 million for winning the title – is normally paid after the tournament.

The Ghana Football Association insisted that the problem had been resolved after intervention by Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, who had spoken to players and guaranteed they would get their money by Wednesday afternoon.

But Fifa hasn’t yet made a decision on handing over any prize money to Ghana in advance.

The bonus row seriously disrupted Ghana’s preparations for its decisive Group G game against Portugal today, although Ghana midfielder Christian Atsu dismissed fears the team would boycott its final group game in Brasilia, which the Ghanaians need to win to stand any chance of reaching the second round.

“We are not going to say we are not going to play because of the money,” Atsu said. “We love our nation and we are going to play for our nation.”

Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah said he had been having “sleepless nights” over the issue, which came to a head on Tuesday when the players and team management had a meeting instead of conducting a training session.

Mahama “personally spoke to the players” to assure them they would receive the money, the Ghana Football Association said. Ghana’s players trained as scheduled yesterday in Brasilia.

Players were going to receive the money in cash because “the practice in Ghana has always been paying the money in cash”, Appiah said.

Asked what the players will do with the appearance fees – reportedly between $75 000 and $100 000 each – if they received them in cash, midfielder Atsu said: “I think we will keep it in our bags and we’ll just lock them. And we will transfer the money to our accounts.”

Brazilian officials said bringing in $3 million in cash and not declaring it to authorities would be illegal and the entire amount could be confiscated.

Individuals cannot bring in more than $4 500 each without having it subject to taxes, said Brazil’s federal police, who enforce custom and immigration laws.

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