Never again! That has been the refrain. Never Again! Never again should we allow football to bring us such sorrow, pain and loss like it did on May 9, 2001, when 127 lives were senselessly forced to their graves after a Hearts-Kotoko league match at the Accra Sports Stadium.
It was an evening of deep sorrow and regret as police fired tear gas into misbehaving fans. The results turned out to be something that the entire nation hasn’t been proud of. We can’t recall the chilling details of all that took place because of the tears it brings to our eyes and the grief that clouds our hearts and minds over this disaster.
It’s hard to wholly accept that, as football people, be it administrators or fans, we have learnt useful lessons from this catastrophic incident 16 years ago. Things that have been witnessed at league centres – where referees have been beaten by irate fans after matches or where angry fans have hurled objects onto the pitch over perceived refereeing bias continue to occur.
This is an unfortunate observation but we can’t help but say that, if we haven’t had another May 9 stadium disaster, it’s probably because we haven’t seen the police react in the manner they did at the Accra Sports Stadium. Generally, from where we sit, conditions that created the tragic incident still live with us. That shouldn’t be the case.
That’s not to say we wish for a recurrence, no! Far from that! Ours is to remind ourselves and everyone of how bad and destructive violence is to lives and property and indeed, to the development of our game hence the need to eschew it at all times.
We’ve a duty regardless of our status in the game not to do things that will bring the image of Ghana football into disrepute, things that will threaten or quench lives and destroy properties.
We shout the refrain “Never Again”! Never Again! Let’s show civility and good behavior at all league centres; let security personnel at match venues act professionally. Let’s punish football hooligans severely – that’s something we don’t seem to have done well in this country.
Let’s keep in mind that, never again should we allow such grave ill-fate to befall us. We continue to sympathise with all who lost relatives in the tragedy. We continue to ask the Good Lord to keep on soothing their pain over the irreplaceable loss. Never Again should this happen!
By Jerome Otchere [www.asantekotokosc.com]