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Remembering Accra Stadium May 9 disaster and lesson learnt

Remembering Accra Stadium May 9 disaster and lesson learnt

By Dom Agbakpe

Like every other sport, football or soccer as it is called in the United States of America (USA) is also played to entertain fans.

The football spectators and supporters are the blood and bone of the game, keep hearts up and pumping and adrenaline rushing with their unique way of supporting their team.

They run onto the playing surface, they sing their team anthem with
passion, always happy each time their team win; they weep or cry when their team loses. But, at times, they put their lives in unfortunate
incident like the Accra Sport Stadium disaster that happened 19 years
ago.

On this day (May, 9, 2001),Wednesday, two old foes in Ghana, Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko rubbed shoulders with each other in a League match at the Ohene Sports Stadium. Crowd violence, essentially, were expected by the officials and they had already taken extra security measures but no one had thought of such tragedy.

Proceedings got off to a blazing start and the Porcupine Warriors took
the lead through pacy wideman Lawrence Adjei on the 60th minute.
However, the Phobians strucked twice late on in the game, thanks to
Ismael Addo’s double to win the tie 2-1 but that didn’t go down well with the Away supporters.

Agitated Asante Kotoko supporters hurled missiles on the field after
the final whistle to register their displeasure but the Police in response, fired tear gas into the stands which made the situation
worst.

The fans began to drift out of the Stadium to seek refuge but their
numbers were far more than the exits, resulting in stampede which took the lives of 127 young and energetic people.

Truly, it was the saddest day not only in Ghana’s football history but
Africa as well. It was reported that the medics had already left and
the number of gates were tightly closed to prevent fans from exiting.

A commission of enquiry set up laid the blame on the doorsteps of the
Police for overreacting and finally six of them were charged for manslaughter – However, the court ultimately couldn’t state whether
the suffocation was caused due to the stampede or tear gas.

Whatever the reason would have been, the loss of 127 lives is never an
expected outcome from a game that’s to unite us regardless of their colour or culture.

Presumably, which is why till today, spectators and supporters chant
“Never Again” to remind them of the darkest day.

Hearts of Oak

Starting XI:

Sammy Adjei, Amankwah Mireku, Jacob Nettey, Dan Quaye, Stephen Tetteh,
Lawrence Adjah Tetteh, Charles Allotey, Edmund Copson, Ismael Addo,
Emmanuel Oset Kuffuor, Charles Taylor.

Substitutes:

Even Dida, Kwame Ali, Joe Ansah, Bernard Don Bortey, Kenneth Sarpong,
Dan Oppong.

Coach: Cecil Jones Attuquayeffio ( Died in 2015)

Asante Kotoko

Starting XI:

Osei Boateng, Kwaku Duah, Godfred Yeboah, Dan Acquah, Joe Hendricks,
Stephen Oduro, Lawrence Adjei, Godwin Ablordey, Sheilla Alhassan, Nana
Frimpong, Frank Asoah.

Substitutes:

Eric Nii Baah, Kwaku Kyere, Anas Mohammed, Francis Akwaffo, Angelo
Dedon, Abedi Sarfo, Joe Okyere.

Coach: Ernst Middendorp

An African football Journalist based in the town of Kabwe, Zambia.

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