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Ghana throws Muntari, Boateng out of World Cup squad

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The Canadian Press
6/26/2014 9:21:59 AM
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BRASILIA, Brazil -- Ghana threw Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng out of its World Cup squad for disciplinary reasons on Thursday, plunging the African team into further chaos ahead of its decisive group-stage match against Portugal.

Just a day after seeming to resolve a possible player mutiny over World Cup bonus payments, the Ghana Football Association released two separate statements saying two of the country's stars had been "suspended ... indefinitely from the Black Stars with immediate effect."

Muntari was suspended "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, one statement read.

The other statement said Boateng was dropped from the squad because of "vulgar verbal insults targeted at coach Kwesi Appiah" during a training session this week.

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

Both players have had their World Cup accreditation withdrawn.

Boateng, who plays for German club Schalke, told German newspaper Sport Bild that he accepted his suspension and wished his teammates well for Thursday's game against Portugal -- "but no one should think that I insulted the coach or did anything wrong."

Boateng said he and Muntari had been joking with each other during training Wednesday. The coach asked why they were laughing, and then sent Boateng to the dressing room, he added.

"After training I went to the coach and asked him if he had a minute for me. I asked him what he had against me," Boateng was quoted as saying. "Then he started shouting at me."

Ghana, a quarterfinalist in 2010, must beat Portugal in Brasilia on Thursday to stand any chance of reaching the second round from Group G. Muntari was suspended for the match after collecting two yellow cards.

Ghana's World Cup campaign was already in turmoil following a row over appearance-fee payments that squad members had been promised but had not yet received.

The country's cash-strapped federation had been forced to ask FIFA for an advance on the $8 million prize money it is guaranteed from playing at the World Cup to pay outstanding debts to players.

FIFA said Wednesday that Ghana's request was "under evaluation."

Ghana's deputy sports minister earlier had said that as much as $3 million in cash was being flown into Brazil from the West African nation to finally pay the bonuses to the unhappy players, averting a possible player strike.

World Cup prize money -- which ranges in Brazil from $8 million for being knocked out in the group stage to $35 million for winning the title -- is normally paid after the tournament.

Ghana midfielder Christian Atsu dismissed fears the team would boycott its final group game in Brasilia over the bonus-payment row.

"We are not going to say we are not going to play because of the money," Atsu said. "We love our nation and we are going to play for our nation."

Appiah said Wednesday that he had been having "sleepless nights" this week, and also said he had patched up his differences with Boateng after a training-ground altercation.

Boateng, Essien  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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