Though Ghana is considered one of the top soccer nations on the Continent of Africa, winning the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations trophy four times before the ‘latter day saints’ – Egypt and Cameroon – came to break that enviable record and went ahead of us, it was very difficult for us to qualify for the World Cup.
Though we have produced great footballers like Mama Acquah, Osei Kofi, Mohamed Polo, Opoku Nti, Abedi Pele and Tony Yeboah among a host of others, qualification for the Mundial kept eluding us. Then from nowhere, the Stephen Appiah-led Black Stars qualified the nation for the World Cup, hosted by Germany in 2006. Since then, we have missed the boat just once, and that was Russia 2018.
It is trite knowledge that footballers of Ghanaian origin plying their trade in European and other leagues are eager to play for the senior national team, because of the team’s improved branding and the consistency in qualification for the soccer Mundial. Kevin Prince Boateng, Jeffrey Schlupp and Adams Kwarasey among others, all accepted to play for the Black Stars because of the love they have for the country, and the fact that the national team has become attractive – The Chronicle salutes all them.
But whilst these players showed commitment to the Black Stars, and the nation as a whole, others also do not feel that they are more Ghanaian and have persistently turned down calls to play for the national team. One of such players is Barcelona superstar Memphis Depay. He was born to a Ghanaian father and Dutch mother; he chose to play for the Netherlands national team. The Chronicle is, therefore, worried that this same player, who turned his back on Mother Ghana visited the country recently, and was given a rousing welcome.
Memphis Depay did not only visit the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, and other prominent personalities, but was actually hosted by the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the seat of government – Jubilee House.
The question is, how many Black Stars players have had the opportunity of visiting the Presidency on their own accord, apart from going there as a team, especially after representing the nation in a tournament?
The Chronicle does not think an American footballer who has naturalised to player for Ghana will be given a hero’s welcome to the White House, just because he has become a superstar. The Chronicle is not against Memphis Depay visiting the country, because he is still a Ghanaian and contributing his quota to uplifting the plight of the under-privileged in the country.
But the Presidency has more important national issues to attend to than be hosting celebrities. The Chronicle holds the view that the Minister for Youth and Sports should have been the best person to host him (Memphis), but surprisingly, the Minister rather led him to visit the President.
Yes, we admit – Ghana is a developing country, but it does not mean that every Tom, Dick and Harry should be rushed to the Presidency to visit our President. The number of persons who will like to visit the President are many, and if we allow all of them to inundate the seat of government, just to exchange pleasantries, then we wonder what time the President will have to tackle the serious economic and developmental issues of the country. Since the Head of State is the most important personality in the country, the protocol planning such visits to the presidency should regulate and limit them.
When Kofi Kingson, the American wrestler of Ghanaian descent, also visited the country two years ago, he was similarly taken to the Presidency to visit the President. But here is a young man who does not project himself in the US media as a Ghanaian, but we were rolling out the red carpet for him, to the extent of him visiting the President. Has Kofi Kingson ever visited the White House in his capacity as a wrestler before? If not, why did we then treat him as an Arabian King when he was in Ghana, after years of staying in the US?
We dare say that we should not cheapen our Presidency by hosting such personalities and giving them gastronomic treats, when some of them do not have the country at heart. We want some of these sports men and women to understand that we need their loyalty, and not the fame they have attained. We hope the protocol officials at Jubilee House are listening and will desist from repeating these mistakes.