Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has expressed strong disapproval of the Youth and Sports Ministry’s decision to spend $3 million on the Black Stars despite their early elimination from the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.

During a parliamentary session on Wednesday, February 14, the sector minister, Mustapha Ussif, disclosed that a total budget of $8.5 million was earmarked for the tournament.

However, only $5 million was initially released, with $3 million subsequently spent on the national team.

Reacting to this allocation, Okudzeto Ablakwa vehemently criticized the decision, emphasizing the need for the country to get tangible value for its expenditure.

“Mr Speaker, the point must be made that the $3m that was spent on the three matches played, which the team performed abysmally is in excess of what other countries budgeted for the entire tournament.

“Nigeria budgeted $1.8m, Zambia budgeted $2.1m and these are open-source information and here we are. There is no value for money.”

Furthermore, he shed light on the significant funds allocated to the Black Stars during the tournament qualifiers, including expenditures for matches against Angola and Madagascar, as well as expenses for airlifting supporters to Qatar.

Despite such substantial investments, Okudzeto Ablakwa lamented the team’s lacklustre performance and emphasized the dire state of infrastructure for youth development and local football leagues.

“Mr Speaker, the document the Sports Ministry submitted to this house, if you look at what we spent on qualifiers, Ghana v Angola home and away amounted to Ghc7.4m and Ghana v Madagascar also amounted to Ghc13.2m. The airlifting of supporters from Ghana to Qatar was Ghc5.3m. We are throwing hundreds of millions into supporting this Black Stars and we are still not getting results.

“Look at the state of our pitches. We don’t even have a single FIFA standard pitch. Youth development is gone. The local league is gone.”

Ghana’s disappointment at the 34th AFCON edition was palpable as they failed to progress beyond the group stage, finishing third with only two points out of a possible nine, dashing hopes of securing a fifth continental title.