Ghana football fans remember May 9 stadium disaster

Ghana football fans remember May 9 stadium disaster

Exactly sixteen (16) years ago today, Africa’s worst sporting tragedy happened in Ghana. The lives of 127 football fans killed during a league game between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko.

The Stadium disaster, took the lives of 127 people, making it the worst stadium disaster to have ever happened in Africa.

A beautiful game turned ugly.

It all started during a match between Ghana’s two most successful football teams, Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

Trouble had been anticipated, and extra security measures had been taken. 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.

The response to this crowd disturbance from the police was to fire tear gas into the crowd. Panic ensued and a resulting stampede led to the deaths from compressive asphyxia of 127 people.

An official inquiry blamed police for over-reacting with reckless behavior and indiscriminate firing of plastic bullets and tear gas. It also accused some officers of dishonesty and indefensible laxity.

Reports claim that medical staff had already left the stadium, as the incident happened near the end of the match. Some gates were locked, preventing escape.

Six police officers were charged with 127 counts of manslaughter afterwards but the court ruled that the prosecution had failed to make a case.

The commission of inquiry recommended improvements to stadium security and first aid facilities, and that nationwide rapid response teams should be set up.

Ghanaian football fans remember the disaster on May 9 each year.

May their souls rest in peace.