Ghana’s Minister for youth and Sport Isaac Kwame Asiamah on Wednesday appealed to soccer fans to learn lessons from the 2001 stadium tragedy that killed 127 people.
Speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the 17th anniversary of the disaster in Accra, Asiamah said that May 9 was the day the beautiful game of football turned ugly and admonished Ghanaians to ensure that Ghana never again go through such experience.
He called on the citizenry to remain strong as a nation and learn lessons of this happening to avoid the repeat of history.
“Let the events of May 9 unite us as one people with common destiny,” he said.
The ceremony was attended by government officials, soccer fans, administrators and family members of the victims.
On May 9, 2001, 127 soccer fans died in a tragic incident at the stadium during a local premier league match between Ghana’s two most successful football clubs, Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
The police fired tear gas into the stands in their efforts to control rioting fans after Hearts overturned a one-goal deficit to lead 2-1, resulting in a stampede during which the fans lost their lives while attempting to escape.
Hundreds more fans were seriously injured during the incident described by aficionados of the game as Africa’s worst ever stadium disaster and the world’s third.
In a statement to observe the day, the GFA remains committed to honor the memory of the fallen friends by continuing its efforts to improve safety standards in match venues.
It called on clubs to continue educating their fans on the laws of the game and to remain law abiding before, during and after league matches.
“Let us constantly remind ourselves that never again should such a tragedy befall our beautiful game and our beloved nation,” said the statement.
File photo of the incident in 2001 from google images