TWELVE years ago, 127 energetic soccer fans were forced into their early graves when the worst football tragedy in the country?s history occurred. They were fans of the two leading football clubs in the country at the time, Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak, who had stormed the stadium on that fateful day to watch their teams in a crucial game.

TERMED, Black Wednesday on the country?s football calendar, the incident has had a debilitating effect on spectatorship in the country with many avoiding not only matches between these two sides, but football matches in general.  It goes without saying that that incident also contributed to the crippling of many families that lost their bread winners in the disaster.


HOWEVER, we on Today can ask if we have learnt any lessons from it. We ask because it is just not enough to commemorate the day and then the following day we go back to business as usual. Occurrences at the country?s stadia lately communicate that Ghana has not drawn enough experience from this occurrence.

APART from continuously failing to punish hooligans at our sports events and putting in enough security plans to end rioting behaviours of fans at various stadia and arenas of play, the football regulatory body has also failed to ensure that clubs present the right number of security personnel to monitor a match. This occurrence has often caused fans to misbehave.

A case in point was how the lack of adequate security at the Robert Mensah Stadium in Cape Coast led to the beating up and maiming of a referee, Patrick Kyeremanteng, and his assistants. He was accused of judging as offside a player who scored a late equaliser for the home team, Ebusua Dwarfs, in their game against Aduana Stars.  Dwarfs lost that match 1-0.

UNFORTUNATELY, this is not an isolated case as Today can chronicle series of stadium clashes that might have contributed to one form of mini-disaster or the other. On the eve of the 12th anniversary of the 2001 disaster, supporters of Kumasi-based Asante Kotoko were captured by television cameras throwing bottled water and other missiles at referees for what they termed ?bad? officiating.

HOWEVER, with the benefit of hindsight, we can safely predict that the Premier League Board (PLB) and the Ghana Football Association (GFA) disciplinary committee would not investigate such mis-behaviour and the consequences.  And that, we can predict again, will only embolden fans that love to misbehave at matches.

AGAINST the background of this, Today wish to submit that Parliament take steps to pass a football law that would require the prosecution of fans that would misbehave at match venues. Such a law should include penalties to be meted out to offenders in the hope that it would serve to rid our football centres of the truancy that could escalate into a May 9 disaster.

ALSO, we should work to ensure that clubs play in stadiums that meet international standards. Security cameras should also be fitted in stadiums to record all happenings on the day of play.  That way, football authorities and the police would know precisely who and who misbehaved.

UNTIL we work to ensure safety in our stadiums, we can never have incident-free football encounters.


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