Ghana marks 20 years of the May 9 Stadium Disaster

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May 9th Disaster

Today marks exactly twenty years to the day some football died while watching the biggest game on the Ghanaian football calendar – a league game between Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko at the Accra Sports Stadium.

With barely five minutes left to play, violence broke after Hearts of Oak striker Ishmael Addo fired home what looked to be the winner.

Unlike these days where empty stadium seats have become a feature of Hearts versus Kotoko matches, the then Ohene Djan Stadium was filled to the brim with no seats left.

The goal by Ishmael Addo enraged the Kotoko fans who felt that they had been given a raw deal by the referee and resorted to removing the plastic seats and throwing them onto the pitch. Sachets of water were also thrown.

Efforts to calm the fans down proved futile, resulting in overzealous police firing tear gas unceasingly into the packed stands while the gates were still locked, thus providing no escape route from the gas.

This led to a stampede as hundreds of people blinded by the tear gas attempted to escape.

Official reports state that 127 persons died eventually – the biggest sporting tragedy on the African continent.

The unfortunate event is marked every year to remember the innocent souls who could not return home from watching a mere football match.

Today, being the twentieth anniversary of the incident, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Sports Authority and the Ghana Football Association have lined up a number of activities to mark the day.

The usual wreath-laying ceremony will be held at the main entrance to the Accra Sports Stadium where a memorial has been built. Players in the Ghana Premier League will wear black armbands.

Here at GhanaWeb, we spoke to a journalist Fiifi Tackie who witnessed and reported on the disaster.

He talks about how his experience as a reporter on the day and lament the failure of all stakeholders to learn lessons from the disaster.

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