Prime News Ghana

23rd anniversary of May 9 Stadium Disaster commemorated in Accra

By primenewsghana
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A solemn ceremony to commemorate what has come to be known as Ghana's darkest day in football, the May 9th Disaster, was held at the Accra Sports Stadium on Thursday.

Twenty-three years ago, on May 9th, 2001, thousands of football fans filled the stands at the Accra Sports Stadium to witness a crucial yop flight league match between the nation's biggest rivals, Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko. Soon after the match ended, irate fans, unhappy about the outcome of the match, started ripping up seats and throwing them onto the tracks surrounding the playing field. In an effort to disperse the unruly set of fans, the police deployed at the match venue fired some canisters of tear gas into the stands leading to a stampede which unfortunately led to the horrific death of a reported 127 people.

The entire nation was grief stricken at this unnecessary loss of life and a number of measures were put in place to guard against a recurrence of such an unfortunate incident.

Almost every year since that sad day, commemorative events have been held to honour the memory of the victims of the disaster and to take stock of how resources raised for the May 9th Disaster Trust Fund were being applied.

This 23rd Anniversary of the May 9th Disaster was attended by leading representatives of all relevant stakeholders, who shared remarks with the gathering.

Deputy Director-General of the National Sports Authority, on behalf of the Director-General, welcomed the Dignitaries and guests, which included some dependants of the victims and members of the Ghana Supporters Union.

Minister for Youth and Sports, Hon. Mustapha Ussif, in his keynote address, emphasized the Government's commitment to partnering with all stakeholders of the game of football to ensure that safety at the various stadiums is assured. He commended the Trustees of the May 9th Disaster Trust Fund for their diligence in administering the Fund and ensuring that all persons designated for support from the Fund had been catered for through the years.

Ghana Football Association President, Kurt Edwin Simeon-Okraku, recollected the pain and horror of the incident, saying that the greatest tribute that Ghana could pay to the victims of the May 9th Disaster was to continue working assiduous to avert any such incidences again. He made reference to improved infrastructure for football across the length and breadth of the country saying that these developments, coupled with increasingly stronger regulations instituted by the GFA, were helping to reduce incidences of hooliganism at the nation's football matches. He was quick to add though, that the game continues to record occasional incidents of violence and that it was critical that all stakeholders come together to do everything they could to rid the stadiums of violence.

Both representatives of Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko shared Solidarity messages with the gathering on behalf of their clubs. Hearts of Oak were represented by Mr. Delali Adiamah, the Managing Director, whilst Nana Kwame Dankwa, Vice-Chairman of the National Circles Council of Asante Kotoko represented his club.

A representative of the Trustees of the May 9th Disaster Fund informed the gathering that all intended beneficiaries of the Fund had been catered for.

Christian, Muslim and Traditional prayers were rendered, at the May 9th monument, for the souls of the victims, their surviving dependents and persons who had suffered injuries on that fateful day.

Thereafter, wreaths were laid by the Minister for Youth and Sports, the President of the GFA, the Managing Director of Accra Hearts of Oak and the Vice-Chairman of the National Circles Council of Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

Ahead of the event, a demonstration on administering CPR was made to the admiral of the gathering.

The event ended with participants expressing a common resolve to continue to work for peace and sanity at all football matches played in Ghana.