In business, the saying goes, “cash is king,” in reference to a company’s cash flow. Evidently, the same can be said of Ghanaian footballers. The Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports is allegedly carrying as much as 250,000 US dollars to dole out as winning bonuses in the event the team wins. I presume he will be accompanied by a ministry accountant and together they will ensure that the players will be smiling. This practice is not new. It has been done since the Flinstone era of Ghana Football and as with many things in the country ‘this is just how we do it here ohhhhhh.’
Carrying cash in this age of pirates on the high seas and break-ins in hotel rooms has always fascinated me. In this day when the superfast highway called the ‘internets‘ by the linguistically challenged and internet by many has made personal banking easier we are still handing out cash? The conjured image of a mafia operation with Consigliere Dua giving cash to the Underboss (accountant) who in turn makes sure the soldiers (footballers) receive and sign for it would be great for a Nollywood movie set. In real life though, this practice is soooooooo not cool.
It lends itself to abuse on so many fronts it is not possible. And questions. Does the minister or accountant sleep with the money? As in do they hold it as tight as they can to their chests and other body parts because the buck would literally stop with him in the event of a disappearance? And what of the temptation to covet your neighbor’s cash?
Despite all these concerns and my reservations, I understand why it happens. Over the years the players have had cause to distrust the hierarchy when it comes to the delivery of bonuses. The most recent example was the long drawn out bonus saga after the world cup. After representing the country well and being toasted everywhere they went and promised everything under the scorching Ghanaian sun, they had to wait months before they were rewarded. Now, I don’t know about you but have you ever been promised money for work you did and made plans for that money to the last dollar only to be disappointed? Yes, while many of these players are professionals in Europe and probably can survive a few weeks of disappointment, five months is ridiculous. I remember seeing some of the players in the mall in Sandton, Johannesburg a day after they lost to Uruguay. Can you imagine what those bonuses could have done for their shopping experience? Wonders, because that mall had everything I could never dream of affording. But I digress.
The players attitudes to bonus delivery after a few weeks can be summarized as “you promised? Now pay up. Enough with the excuses already!!!” Or else well I will take the law into my own hands a la John Mensah. To be fair, Mensah later refuted this alleged indiscipline.
The distrust by the players is warranted on some level. I personally wouldn’t trust the officials after so many disappointments in the past. Nevertheless, I think there is an alternative that can take into consideration their past failures. What if someone pointed out that you could actually deliver money in cash and by direct transfer. It has been done before you know. It is not a new invention. So that payment becomes a combination of all three. Readily available cash is a good thing. Checks are secure in the event of a break in and outside of public officials not using the players’ account information for its intended purpose there is little risk in direct deposits.
Direct deposits leave the thorny issue of banking fees as the last hurdle. If the players’ monies were to be transferred who is to say that various fees will not be charged by ‘greedy’ banks for the services? This is an issue that could again be handled easily with the State bearing all the transfer costs but with the way things work here there is no telling what could go wrong.
So, cash it shall be for the foreseeable future until such a time that there is enough trust to pursue safer