Ghana marks 12 years of stadium disaster

Accra, May 10 (IANS) A wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Accra Sports Stadium to mark the 12th anniversary of the disaster which claimed 127 soccer fans in 2001.

Thursday’s ceremony was attended by government officials, soccer fans, administrators and family members of those killed, reports Xinhua.

More than 127 soccer fans died May 9, 2001, 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 arch rivals 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 127 fans lost their lives while attempting to escape.

Hundreds more were seriously injured during the incident described by aficionados of the game as Africa’s worst ever stadium disaster and the world’s third.

The May 9 stadium incident affected the overall spectatorship to premier league centers across the West African country, with club officials grieving over low proceeds until the Ghana Football Association (GFA) employed a stadium insurance policy two years ago to provide cover to mitigate losses that might arise from such incidents and create a center of attention to fans.

A Muslim prayer session for the departed souls led by representatives of the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, and officials of the two clubs was held at Nima, a community within the capital, which recorded most casualties.

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