Ghana has chartered a flight to Brazil stocked with more than $3 million in cash for its World Cup soccer players.
Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama personally intervened after the Black Stars “insisted they will want physical cash” to cover their appearance fees at the international competition, Deputy Sports Minister Joseph Yammin said on Accra-based Citi FM.
President Mahama coordinated the payment after agitation from the national team over not being paid since the start of the competition, according to a statement released by the Ghana Football Association. He spoke directly to the players to assure them that the cash would be in their hands by Wednesday afternoon in an effort to calm their fears.
Ghana has played two matches so far, losing 2-1 to the U.S. and drawing 2-2 against Germany. The team plays its final first round match against Portugal Thursday, and if the Black Stars are to have any chance of moving on to the later stages of the tournament, they must beat Portugal.
“We wish to assure the general public following President Mahama’s intervention the Black Stars are in high spirits ahead of Thursday’s match,” the association said.
The government is pre-financing the appearance fees, which will be reimbursed by FIFA after the country’s prize money comes through after the tournament. The $3 million sum is not cheap for the West African country, which has a $40.7 billion gross domestic product, according to World Bank data, and is battling daily electricity blackouts, fuel shortages and slowing economic growth.
President Mahama has worked to ensure the habitual blackouts don’t interrupt the broadcasting of the national team’s games. The government has boosted power production during the World Cup matches and asked its largest aluminum smelter to cut its consumption at the same time to make sure Ghana’s televisions stay on.