Actor John Dumelo, one of the celebrities sent to Brazil to champion Ghana’s off-the-field campaign at the 2014 World Cup has said their main purpose of promoting Ghana at the tournament was achieved greatly.
He said as far as he was concerned, their job of promoting Ghana in Brazil as part of a volunteer work was done.
Speaking in an interview on Peace FM Wednesday morning, Dumelo denied reports that each ambassador received US$20,000 as reward.
He confirmed though that they received per diem, refusing however to state how much each ambassador received.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports in May this year unveiled a number of celebrities including ex-football stars as ambassadors who were going to champion Ghana’s off-the-field campaign at the World Cup.
They included musicians Shatta Wale, Becca, Gyedu Blay Ambolley and Amandzeba Nat Brew alongside actors John Dumelo, Nana Ama McBrown and Jackie Appiah.
Others were named as Grace Ashy, C.K. Akonnor, Tony Baffoe, Abedi Ayew Pele, Stephen Appiah, Anthony Baffoe, Kwame Ayew, Augustine Ahinful, Samuel Osei Kufour, Tony Yeboah, Azumah Nelson and Ali Jarrah, among others whose names were not given out by the Ministry.
Not all the personalities named by the Ministry as ambassadors went to Brazil. The ministry did not also give out the exact number of ambassadors.
The ministry explained that the ambassadors were expected to use their iconic status to promote Ghana and raise funds for several outlined projects including taking supporters to Brazil for the World Cup.
The unveiling of the ambassadors in May was received with a myriad of criticisms. Some asked for the reasons and criteria used to appoint the personalities.
Sam George, a communication person for government for instance said on Radio Gold that it was a complete waste of resources for the nation to appoint such people, particularly actors who do not play key roles in the Black Stars.
To him, it was a misplaced priority on the part of the Sports Ministry to give these personalities first-class air treatment to Brazil just to perform to the amusement of the players.
But on his return from Brazil and responding to the criticisms on Peace FM Wednesday morning, John Dumelo said in spite of some organisational challenges he would grade the entire trip seven, on a scale of one to 10.
He said for them as ambassadors, their main purpose of going to Brazil was done.
“Our main reason was to raise money from corporate Ghana to send supporters to the World Cup, which we did to some extent.”
‘We raised US$2milion’
Asked how much they raised Dumelo said, “I don’t have the figures but the last time certain figures were quoted it was just a little over US$2milion which was raised by the ambassadors.”
Dumelo said a proposal that went round to solicit for funds and stated that it was going to cost US$20,000 per an ambassador to be sent to Brazil was initially misconstrued as monies meant for payment to the ambassadors.
He however could not tell how much it cost the GFA or Ministry of Youth and Sports to take each ambassador to Brazil.
Asked what exactly they did to warrant such a high score from him, he said they set up a Ghana village in Natal and to the amazement of everybody, every Brazilian in Natal went to the Ghana stand because Ghana was the only country that had a stand.
“We were playing Ghanaian music and saying a lot of things about Ghana. As a matter of fact, a lot of Brazilian people would want to come to Ghana as part of the tourism thing to see how Ghana looks like, so our main purpose was done,” he said.
“Promoted J.melo more than Ghana’
On reports that he (Dumelo) advertised himself and his clothing line (J.melo) more than Ghana and shouldn’t’ have been sent there especially as he had nothing to do with football, Dumelo said they (ambassadors) stayed in Brazil for more than two weeks and he needed to wear something.
“…so I chose to [wear] my own clothing and put the Ghana flag on it,” he said.
“Besides, it was more or less like killing two birds with one stone. I cannot go to Brazil and only watch football without exploring other business opportunities. We keep crying in Ghana that we want investors so that is exactly what we went to do in Brazil.”
Asked about what he made of criticisms by the public on the entire Brazilian episode, Dumelo said “I have heard a lot of unpleasant things after the trip but for me, I will say it was a way of serving my country and which I did well.”
End of the road
Ghana’s participation at the World Cup came to an end on June 26, 2014 after losing 2:1 to Portugal in the last Group G match and picking only one point from three matches.
Aside a host of organisational challenges that bedeviled the playing body including agitations over appearance fees that resulted in the airlifting of over US$3 million by the government to Brazil, there were also an incident of assault between one player Sulley Muntari and a management member, Moses Armah. Sulley was subsequently suspended indefinitely from the team.
Another case of disagreement between Coach Kwasi Appiah and Kevin-Prince Boateng resulted in the indefinite suspension of Boateng from the team.
On the part of the supporters, organisational challenges resulted in their getting stranded at some airports and were unable to watch some of the matches. The last batch of about 70 supporters airlifted from Ghana to Brazil missed Ghana’s match with Portugal as they arrived in Brazillian airspace to learn of Ghana’s failure to progress. They subsequently had to return to Ghana without watching any of the matches.