e.tv Ghana has hosted its maiden edition of the eSports Summit, dubbed’: ‘Financing the National Team: The Bonus and Appearance Fee Structure and its Sustainability’.
The event, held at the Accra City Hotel this week, proved to be a thought leadership dialogue bringing together industry experts, stakeholders and civil society groups to share their expertise regarding controversial bonus structure and appearance fees.
The dialogue was graced by a representative of the Minister of Youth and Sports, Alhaji Sani Adams, Head of Policy Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry, with distinguished panelists including Fred Pappoe (Former Vice President of the GFA), Moses Foh-Amoaning (Co-Vice Chairman for the Dzamefe Presidential Commission on the 2014 Brazil World Cup), Neil Armstrong (Former Managing Director of Hearts of Oak) and ex-Black Stars player Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, who shared useful perspectives to influence national policy on the subject.
Delivering the welcome address, Programmes Manager for e.tv Ghana, Cosby Bikpe, reiterated that: “The maiden edition of the eSports Summit has given us insights to improve the strategy and overall direction of the game we love the most as experts shared their knowledge and suggestions on the topic ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. We are proud as a team to have established the basis, and led the discussion on the issues of bonuses and the alarming controversies, developing best practices and the way forward”, he added.
In his opening remarks, the guest speaker, Minister for Youth and Sports, represented by Alhaji Sani Adams, commended e.tv Ghana for initiating what he described as a necessary discussion within the sports fraternity. He further established that football has been one of the country’s components that ties people together.
“Everything is negotiable in this world except the performance of football. In this country, if there’s anything that happens, will happen and has happened, you can always negotiate but when it comes to football, especially the performance of our national team, there’s no negotiation about it. Ghanaians are so passionate about football to the extent that when it comes to football we forget about our tribes, our political affiliations, and we all unite as one.
“It has not happened in any of our sports discipline except for football. In the ministry, we have been tagged as a ‘Footballing Ministry’ for a very long time; but the truth of the matter is that well over 70 percent of the resources is spent in other sports but the fact that the Internet and passion of Ghanaians is on football, anytime there’s expenditure on football there’s more attention to it.”
Delivery his presentation, Neil Armstrong-Mortagbe argued that there is a case to be made for spending a lot more on football than other sports disciplines in Ghana. He shared that although the country may be engaged in numerous sports disciplines, one has a comparative advantage over the others, hence, the expenditure on football is much higher.
“We engage in a lot of sporting activities, but there are some that we have comparative advantage over. Comparative advantage is key, and football is one of Ghana’s sources of comparative advantage and that is why we spend much on that. It is not that the other disciplines do not deserve resources, but we need to look at it and determine the field of comparative advantage,” he submitted.
He further charged the need for a sustainability plan to establish and enable sports personnel to live a viable livelihood after spending years on the field.
“So, money has a role to play as much as intrinsic motivation also has a role to play. Their lives (ex-players) are not at the levels where you expect people who have sweated and bled for this nation should be. It’s pathetic, and there are those who say they didn’t live their lives well and yeah you can be judgmental, but we all have our faults. There are no nets that takes care of them. That is why in the case for this bonus I always say there’s a case,” he added.
On his part, Lawyer Moses Foh-Amoaning has called on the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to set aside insurance packages to carter for the Black Stars squad heading to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “Part of the support to the Black Stars ahead of Qatar 2022 should include insurance packages. The boys should not care for their injuries by themselves or by their clubs only, but the GFA should do that. The sponsorship packages for the players should include support from insurance companies,” he said.
Lashing the players’ perspective, former U-20 World Cup Winner, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, reiterated the essence of the insurance packages as part of the bonus structures as he lamented numerous injuries he suffered playing for the country and had to fight off alone. “It is not like we don’t have passion and we’re always money-conscious. I’ve had several scars on my body playing for the national side than for my club. Mostly I treat the injuries myself with no insurance cover. I don’t know if we have it and I never benefitted from it,” he shared.
However, Fred Pappoe, the former Vice President of the GFA, contended that national team players be awarded based on their performance at tournaments. According to him, rewarding players with fixed amounts regardless of abysmal performances does not motivate them to do better. “We need to tweak appearance fees to be focused on performance and output. We don’t need to keep it at the same amount or package all the time.”
Present at the maiden eSports Summit were a cross-section of sports policy influencers, including the Ghana Supporters Union, celebrated sports journalists and a host of others.
The event, which was a fusion of entertainment and knowledge-sharing, was moderated by the host of Happy Sports and the Head of Sports for e.TV Ghana, Ohene Bampoe Brenya; and emceed by Raymond Nyamador, host of eSports Live on e.tv Ghana and Co-host of Happy Morning Show.