The Ghana Football Association (GFA) on Saturday said the stadium disaster that occurred in 2001 will forever remain an important guide to the battle against hooliganism.
More than 127 soccer fans died May 9, 2001, in a tragic incident at the stadium during a local premier league match between Ghana’s two most successful football clubs, Accra Hearts of Oak and arch rivals Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
The police fired tear gas into the stands in their efforts to control rioting fans after Hearts overturned a one-goal deficit to lead 2-1, resulting in a stampede during which 127 fans lost their lives while attempting to escape.
Hundreds more were seriously injured during the incident described by aficionados of the game as Africa’s worst ever stadium disaster and the world’s third.
In a statement to mark the 14th anniversary of the disaster, the FA said it has over the years taken stringent measures to curb hooliganism in Ghana football.
Fan education, effective security at league centers and meting out tougher sanctions including stadium bans to clubs whose supporters engage in acts of violence have been some of the steps the GFA has taken, the GFA said.
There is, however, some more work to be done in the fight against hooliganism by stakeholders.
The GFA said the greatest tribute it can pay to its fallen friends is to continuously ensure that safety of all is guaranteed at every league center.
“The GFA will, therefore, continue to engage all stakeholders, particularly football fans, to ensure that we set high safety standards at football matches,” said the statement signed by Kwesi Nyantakyi, the GFA President.
Ghana’s Youth and Sports Minister Mustapha Ahmed appealed to soccer fans to learn lessons from the tragedy.
“As we commemorate this tragic event, let the lessons from the circumstances that led to this scar on the conscience of this nation guide us to collectively resolve that never again should such a tragedy befall this nation,” Ahmed said.
The Managing Director of Accra Hearts of Oak Gerald Ankrah called on stakeholders in the sport to continue to draw appropriate lessons from this dark episode in the country’s football history to avert its recurrence.
A former chief executive of Asante Kotoko Herbert Amponsah Mensah is saddened by the lack of respect to the departed ones and the needed attention to the surviving families left behind.
A walk was held on Saturday in Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi to mark the 14th anniversary of the disaster whilst prayers were said in Accra for the departed souls.
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