RIO DE JANEIRO — The 2014 World Cup has been inundated with stories of racism, unruly fans and uneven officiating, but Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari is trying to make at least a couple positive headlines.
But on Thursday, two days before Saturday's 2-2 draw against Germany, Muntari got special permission from Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah to venture into the neighborhood of Trapiche (near the city of Maceio, where his team is staying and practicing) and started handing out money to disadvantaged locals. One report said he was handing out as much as R$350 (Brazilian reals), which is the equivalent of about $160 to each person he encountered.
Eventually, local police asked him to stop.
“It’s unforgettable,” a recipient named Edivaldo told Globo.com.
“I’ve lived in this poor community behind the Rei Pele Stadium for forty years but have never seen anything like this before. Not once has a soccer player come here. Brazil never gave me anything but Ghana did. I will support them up to the end.”
“My 80-year-old mother and I received R$350 [Brazilian reals],” said Inês Corrêa, who went to check out the commotion when police surrounded Muntari. “I believe that he had R$5,000 but unfortunately the police put an end to his good work. In this area we only see politicians at election time.”
During the game against Germany, Muntari, who plays for AC Milan, gained worldwide attention after kindly escorting a Nazi-supporting pitch invader off the field. Then, after the draw, he took time to pose for pictures and sign autographs for fans in Maceió.