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‘The May 9 Disaster’; the biggest football tragedy in Africa

The saddest moment of Ghana and African football happened 19 years ago today in Accra dubbed ‘The May 9 disaster.’ This tragic event led to the claiming of lives of 127 football loving fans who trooped into the stadium on that faithful day to rally behind their various clubs.

9th May 2001, the day was Wednesday, the Super-Clash of the Ghana premier league was scheduled for match week four between the two Ghanaian giants Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko at the Accra Sports Stadium. It finished (2-1) with the Phobians running out with all three points kind courtesy to a brace from top striker Ishmael Addo which propelled the Phobians to complete a comeback over their bitterest rivals when Lawrence Adjei had already given the ‘Kum Apem’ lads the lead.

Right after Hearts of Oak had gone in front for the first time in the game on the 81st minute, it sparked controversy with some Kotoko supporters starting to express their displeasure stating they are been cheated by centre-man Joseph Wilson Sey who was tasked to referee the game on the day.

In the course expressing their anger, most of the fans started throwing bottles and sachets of water onto the pitch especially at the referee and his officials. It even got worse when the fans also started breaking the seats at the stadium into pieces and this created violence in the stands between the fans of both clubs.

In an attempt to stop those section of supporters from exhibiting such an unsporting behavior, the police men at the venue started throwing tear gas into the stands which created a ‘run for your life’ scene since the fans realised they had gotten themselves in danger and their lives were at stake at that moment. The smallish nature of the exits at the various stands couldn’t allowed for a smooth walkaway thereby leading to the claiming of the lives of 127 people among the fans.

It wasn’t a pleasant seen at all and one would never have wished to witness this tragedy. Do you blame the fans for this or the security personnel? This is another issue to tackle.

This has since gone down as one of the tragic moments in Ghana football and Africa in a whole. People left their family to go to the stadium only for them not to return. Some people are even saying the low stadium attendance in our local league as at now was caused by this same event as fans are now scared to loose their lives through the game.

We hope this never happen in our football anymore. Say big no to hooliganism in football. May the gentle souls of all the 127 fans continue to rest in perfect peace.

By: Iddriss Abdul Rahim

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