Ghana: May 9 Should Not Repeat Itself!!

opinion

Yesterday marked exactly 19 years when 127 Ghanaian football fans died in a stampede at the Accra Sports Stadium.

On May 9, 2001, there was a crucial match between arch-rivals Accra Hearts of Oak (Phobians) and Kumasi Asante Kotoko(Porcupine Warriors) at the Accra Sports Stadium.

Hearts were leadingKotoko 2-1 with only five minutes to end proceedings.

Kumasi Asante Kotoko fans were not the least amused by the score-line and blamed their loss on poor refereeing.

Earlier, match officials had anticipated crowd disturbances and so had called for extra security measures.

However, the fans, especially those of the Porcupine Warriors, did not care about the presence of security personnel. They only allowed their emotions to go high and tempers to flare.

There were all manner of complaints and the tensions soon grew into hurling of missiles at fans and even match officials and the security personnel.

Angry Asante Kotoko fans ripped up plastic chairs and hurled them onto the pitch.

The police responded with firing of tear gas into the stands and as the gates had tightly been locked, many fans were trapped and a stampede resulted.

The stampede resulted in 127 Ghanaian football fans losing their lives, with many more getting injured and unconscious, who were rushed to hospitals.

This incident has come to be known as the May 9 Disaster in Ghana, which is so far described as the saddest day in Ghanaian sports and the worst 90 minutes in African football history.

The day is immortalized witha bronze statue, erected outside the Accra stadium, of a fan carrying another fan to safety with the inscription, "I Am My Brother's Keeper".

Sad incident, indeed. We would continue to commemorate May 9, 2001.

Sunday marked the 20th anniversary and yesterday, President Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo met with some of the surviving victims.

Let's leave what transpired at the meeting and dwell on one or two comments that should prompt us to endeavour to avoid unnatural disasters like May 9.

Football is the Ghanaian game that pulls both the young and the old into exhibiting the proverbial Ghanaian unity, especially when the Black Stars are playing foreign teams and also because the local teams have supporters across the various ethnic groups in the country.

This means match officials should always let their actions promote that national unity.

After all, fans know every match is a 50-50 situation, where their team can lose or win, but if they see biased refereeing, surely their emotions can flare and the unexpected can happen.

However, we appeal to fans to show sportsmanship and avoid all emotional exchanges that can result in anything unpleasant. Emotional intelligence is thus key in this matter.

The Ghanaian Times wishes to appeal to security personnel, especially the police, that restraint, precaution and discretion should be some of the key issues they should consider in managing rowdy crowd or a mob. But for the police firing the tear gas, a different thing would have occurred on May 9, 2001.

Finally, we appeal that if there are any outstanding issues like compensations not getting to a victim or some receiving compensations but getting shortchanged, these must be resolved and appropriately so.

More From: Ghanaian Times

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