So the African Cup of Nations (or AFCON) has ended. Good on Zambia, the eventual winners! But like most people who love African football, I tuned in to watch and support my national team, the Black Stars of Ghana. But I can't believe how badly our boys played. The team lacked a certain je ne sais quoi.
Aside from being disappointed by the performance of the Black Stars, I was also angered by the attitude of the various commentators. I watched most of the games online. And when I did watch television, it was either ITV4 or Eurosport And I tell you, the commentators online, on ITV4, Eurosport and I am told Radio France International, all sounded totally bored most of the time. When they did not sound bored, they seemed downright condescending.
I had to ask myself, were the commentators behaving this way because it was African football? I had heard commentators on games by European teams and they certainly sounded different. When commentating on games played by, say, Manchester United or Barcelona, European commentators sound alive and animated. They sound as if they are really into the game.
I mean, if the European commentators are not passionate enough about African football to make viewers excited with their commentary, is it not better to find and use African commentators? In Ghana, for example, we have the likes of Michael Katahene, Chris Opoku and the former BBC sports presenter Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah. I tell you, any one of these commentators would have done a much better job than the boring and seemingly disinterested European commentators we had to make do with. And I am sure there are many Michael Katahenes, Chris Opokus and Yaw Amoofo-Ankrahs across the African continent!
If stations such as ITV4 and Eurosport commit to showing African football, they must go the extra mile and find African commentators who can do a better job than the crop of commentators we are currently listening to. Or if that is too much for them, how about employing the likes of Mark Wright or Ian Wright? Surely they would have done a much better job than their European counterparts we were forced to listen to.
It was obvious that the stations and their commentators did not have enough respect for African football. Eurosport, for one, could not even deign to give us match analysis during half-time or even after the games. During almost all the matches, except the final, they just cut in during half-time to show some irrelevant and boring news/interviews about European football or skiing - at a time when their African viewers were glued to the TV and dying to see half-time or post-match analysis of the games they had just watched. Show Africa and Africans some respect, Eurosport! Or just pass on the chance to show the matches to other stations which will show us some respect!
Even the way they talked about the players was rude. For example, if a player was down as a result of a bad tackle, the commentators spoke as if the player was pretending. At one stage during the Ghana-Tunisia quarter-final game, a Tunisian player kicked Ghana's Dede Ayew hard in the chest. Anybody watching would have felt the pain as if it had happened to them personally. But apparently not the Eurosport commentator! He saw absolutely nothing wrong in Dede Ayew being kicked in the chest in such a violent manner.
But I guess the attitude of the Eurosport and ITV4 commentators actually reflects how much racism there is in European football. Can you imagine, the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, saying racism in football can be tackled by shaking hands and forgetting all about it? When questioned on CNN, this is what Blatter had to say: "I would deny it There is no racism, there is maybe [the action of] one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one, but also the one who is affected by that, he should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands. …