Speed Reads

World Cup

Ghana sends home two key players, boosting U.S. hopes

In a surprising development, Ghana has sent home two of its best players — Kevin Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari — for "fighting with team authorities," according to The Wall Street Journal. The move comes hours before Ghana is set to play Portugal in a crucial match to determine which teams will advance to the second round out of Group G, which also includes the United States.

Muntari was already slated to sit the game out after receiving two yellow cards in previous play. But Boateng, a talismanic figure for the the Black Stars, was eligible to take the field. The Ghana Football Association said Boateng had flung "vulgar verbal insults targeted at coach Kwesi Appiah," while Muntari had engaged in an "unprovoked physical attack on an executive committee member."

The expulsions come a day after Ghana was compelled to fly $3 million to Brazil to pay its players, which had apparently been a matter of dispute, with the team threatening to boycott the game against Portugal.

A full picture has yet to emerge. But things have gotten very ugly for a team that has electrified the tournament with its powerful, athletic play and exuberant goal celebrations.

UPDATE: Some details of the Muntari incident from Ghana's AllSports.com. Muntari reportedly flew into a rage over the money, attacking committee member Moses Parker and smashing up his hotel room.

The meeting room with management members and players all in attendance had become utterly chaotic as security officials and players attempted to hold back both men. Some officials took Parker up to his room on the second floor of the hotel while others blocked the door so Muntari will not follow up. So charged up was Muntari that he floored at least two security men detailed to the team, brushed off Felix Ansong and pushed all before him.

Soon he was up in Parker’s room on the second floor of the hotel located within striking distance of the official residence of Brazil’s president but other officials had locked up Parker on the balcony to prevent further confrontation. An incensed Muntari then went on a rampage destroying as much as he could in sight in the process. In the end it took center back Jonathan Mensah’s strength to be able to hold the Milan star back on what is easily one of the most shameful nights in Ghana football. [AllSports.com]

Indeed. Just awful.