Football fans have been urged to respect safety guidelines and precautions in order to save lives during crowd disturbances at the various national stadia and prevent the tragedy that hit Ghana on May 9, 2001, after a football game.
Speakers at the ceremony to mark the 16th anniversary of the May 9 stadium tragedy, including the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Isaac Asiamah, were unanimous in their conviction that more lives could have been saved if spectators knew of measures to take in the event of such disasters.
The disaster, described as the worst in the history of African football, was commemorated yesterday with a memorial and wreath-laying ceremony at the forecourt of the Accra Sports Stadium.
Mr Asiamah, in an address, said the incident was the darkest day in the history of Ghana sports and, therefore, advised soccer fans to learn first aid practices such as Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in order to save lives.
He said, “All the worst stadium disasters in the world have occurred during soccer matches and occurred as a result of crowd hooliganism, bad officiating, unprofessional crowd control by the police, poor security management and lack of compliance with safety measures at the stadium.
“Let us, as one people, resolve to be one another’s keeper, let us embrace the tenets of sportsmanship and resolve never to see a repeat of this,” Mr Asiamah added.
A member of the Ghana Football Association Medical Committee, Dr Prince Pamboe, in a presentation cautioned sports fans to desist from consuming alcohol before and during football matches so they could be alert in the event of such incidents.
Later, the minister was joined by the Greater Accra Regional Football Association (FA) Chairman, Nii Komiete Doku, representatives of Hearts, Kotoko and the bereaved families to lay wreaths in memory of the victims at the May 9 monument located at the main entrance of the stadium.
The Secretary of the Stadium Disaster Board of Trustees, Mr Christopher Annan, disclosed that 148 children of the deceased were beneficiaries of the fund at its inception, and currently, 61 are enrolled in school with 15 at the basic level, 35 at the secondary level and eight at the tertiary level. Three of the beneficiaries are in the process of writing remedial exams for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The wreath-laying ceremony commemorated the loss of 127 lives following a stampede at the Accra Sports Stadium on May 9, 2001, when police fired volleys of tear gas into the stands to control crowd violence in the aftermath of a Ghana Premier League match between Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
Hearts, the home side, scored two late goals to defeat Kotoko 2–1 which led to disappointed Kotoko fans throwing plastic seats and bottles onto the pitch and the fatal response by the police.
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