Saturday 16 December 2017

Ghana sends Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng home from World Cup after slap row

Ghana's Kevin-Prince Boateng
Ghana's Kevin-Prince Boateng
Ghana's Sulley Muntari
Ghana's Sulley Muntari (L) escorts a pitch invader from the field during their 2014 World Cup Group G

Martyn Ziegler

Ghana's two biggest stars have been suspended from the team just hours ahead of their crucial World Cup match.

Sulley Muntari, the AC Milan midfielder, and Schalke midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng have both had their World Cup accreditation withdrawn, the Ghana FA (GFA) announced.

The two former Portsmouth players will play no part in Ghana's must-win last group match against Portugal in Brasilia on Thursday.

The squad has been a state of rebellion over unpaid appearance fees, and Muntari is reported to have slapped a senior GFA official during a heated meeting.

Boateng "verbally abused" coach Kwesi Appiah, said the GFA.

A statement from the association said: "The GFA has suspended Sulley Ali Muntari indefinitely from the Black Stars with immediate effect.

"The decision was taken in the wake of his unprovoked physical attack on an executive committee member of the GFA and a management member of the Black Stars, Mr Moses Armah on Tuesday 24th June, 2014 during a meeting.

"The GFA has approved coach Kwesi Appiah's decision to suspend Kevin-Prince Boateng indefinitely from the Black Stars.

"The decision was taken following Boateng's vulgar verbal insults targeted at coach Kwesi Appiah during the team's training session in Maceio this week.

"Boateng has since showed no remorse for his actions which has resulted in the decision."

The statement said both Muntari and Boateng's accreditation for the World Cup has been withdrawn "with immediate effect".

The players had been in a dispute over money, and the Ghana FA reportedly flew a chartered plane to Brazil carrying 3million US dollars (£1.8million) in order to pay the players their appearance fees. That money was said to have arrived in Brazil on Wednesday.

Speaking prior to the suspension, Ghana midfielder Christian Atsu had insisted the dispute would not affect the team on the pitch as they prepare for a must-win game against Portugal.

''We are not going to say we are not going to play because of the money,'' Atsu said on the Ghana FA's website.

''We love our nation and we are going to play for our nation.''

But events since then cannot help but overshadow that match. Any winner between Ghana and Portugal could advance to the next round if the United States lose to Germany.

The suspensions continue a chaotic World Cup for Ghana, which began with the FA strongly denying that it had agreed for the national team to play in matches later this year which others were preparing to fix.

An undercover investigation by Channel 4's Dispatches and The Telegraph identified two people, one a licensed FIFA agent and the other a Ghana club official, who said they could fix friendly matches involving the national side.

GFA president Kwesi Nyantakyi denied that he had agreed for two proposed matches to go ahead.

Following his suspension, Boateng spoke to German magazine Sport-Bild, and blamed the incident on a disagreement with Appiah during training.

"Sulley Muntari and I were just joking around, and the coach stopped the session and sent us back to the changing room," Boateng said.

"Afterwards I went to the him and asked what he had against me and he started yelling. He insulted me. There were words like: 'F*** off'."

Boateng said he accepted his suspension but seemed to dispute the reasons the Ghana FA gave for it.

"No one should think I insulted the coach," he said. "I'm travelling now, and I wish my colleagues all the best for the match against Portugal."

Press Association

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