Female players’ exodus to Europe: Their gain, clubs’ pain

The decision by European clubs to open their doors to female footballers from Africa is good news for the players but for most clubs in Ghana it is not so pleasant as their best players are being whisked away without the appropriate compensation.

Indeed, many of the clubs, particularly in the elite division or the National Women’s League (NWL), have lost many of their best players without benefiting a pesewa from their transfer.
More worryingly, most of the contracts signed are in foreign language and are just explained in English to the local clubs and for the players to sign.

This season, the defending NWL champions, Ampem Darkoa Ladies have lost three players – Princella Adubea, the national top scorer for 2017, Priscilla Okyere and Grace Asantewaa have all been signed on by Spanish clubs for the 2019-2020 season.

Lily Niber-Lawrence also of former champions, Sekondi Hasaacas Ladies have also joined the Spanish train.

There are others in Sweden, Iceland as well as Lebanon, and the transfers have provided the players with the chance to earn some wages as semi-professionals, but their clubs do not get a pesewa for the time and resources spent in developing and honing their talent.

Ampem Darkoa’s Princella Adubea (extreme front right)  one of four African players  who have signed for Club de Huelva this season

The players per their contracts, earn between 1,200 euros and 2,200 euros as taxable monthly income but there are no initial signing-on fees and the clubs do not get anything from their transfer despite the Ghana Football Association (GFA) regulation that says transfer of female footballers must be treated as the transfer of minors, thus development fee agreed between the two clubs negotiated  should be paid.

However, Nana Ofosu Gyeabour, the President of Ampem Darkoa Ladies, told the Graphic Sportsonline that the club had lost the top players without receiving a pesewa because they were eager to leave and the agents who brokered the deal insisted they had no money to pay at the initial stage.

Nana Gyeabour said though it was unfair and a disadvantage to the clubs, they had no choice than to allow the players to go because it was an opportunity for the players to pursue their dreams as they earned nothing playing in Ghana.

“We have no choice than to let them go because it’s their chance to pursue a career abroad. The agents who brokered the said they did not have money to pay anything to us. Rather, they have made provision in the contract that in case of an onward transfer, we will get 30 per cent,” Nana Gyeabour told the Graphic Sportsonline.

“It is unfortunate because we spend a lot on these players and we had hoped to at least earn something which will be used to run the club or get replacement, but once such a demand is made before the International Transfer Certificate (ITC) would be released, the agents threaten to look elsewhere, and because that is the chance for the players to also earn from their talent, we reluctantly allow them to leave.

“In most instances, we have to even foot the bills for the travels from Techiman to Accra, their accommodation and the visa application fees. The only thing the club or agents do is to provide the air tickets and once they arrive, they become their responsibility.

“We earn nothing, but the girls are growing and if there is a window of opportunity to earn and also improve upon their skills which will benefit the nation eventually, we are obliged to release them because we give them meagre allowances and that can not be compared to what they are going to earn from their foreign clubs,” the President of Ampem Darkoa FC explained.

He further indicated that they were not given copies of the contracts signed by the three players “but the contents were explained to us and we were told that the players will be housed and catered for by the clubs while they will be paying taxes on their salaries which would be paid monthly. I was not told if they would be given other bonuses as is usually the case of the male players,” he stressed.

Nana Gyeabour expressed the hope that soon this issue will be resolved given that most female club owners run the clubs with their own funds and no support from sponsorship.

Hasaacas Ladies who were among the first clubs to have released players to foreign clubs had similar stories to share but stressed that until recently, when the players moved to Europe, the trip to particularly the USA, had been on academic scholarships, “so there were no earnings.”

Lily Niber-Lawrence signs a two-year deal with Spanish side, Extremadura UD Feminine

Coach Yusif Basigi said it was a result of that academic scholarship that players who benefitted from such arrangements like the Cudjoe sisters – Elizabeth and Jennifer as well as Linda Eshun, Samira Suleman were able to return and play for the clubs when they were on vacation.

“In recent times, the players are given short contracts and earn as they play so it has been difficult to demand any fees for their transfer, such has been the fix most clubs find themselves in now.

“The players are earning some contracts of some sorts which is good for the development and progress of the game but the clubs which spend huge sums developing them do not earn anything as compensation. The only consolation is when they travel and excel and ultimately they are called up into the national teams.

By: Rosalind Amoh

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