Reports that four soccer fans, who attended the Kotoko-Hearts Glo Premier league match in Kumasi last Sunday, have died, has raised the question as to whether our leaders are proactive or not. After the May 9, 2001 Accra Sports Stadium disaster, where over 127 soccer fans died, one would have thought that a lot of lessons had been learnt, but that is not what we are seeing or hearing now.
Reports from Kumasi indicate that more soccer fans were allowed into the stadium than what the facility could take. This resulted in excessive heat, and the subsequent collapse and death of the fans, a few hours after the match.
A director of Kotoko was quoted by some of the radio stations, as saying that the police contributed to the problem, because he personally saw some of them collecting money from some soccer fans, and allowing them passage into the stadium, when it was already full to capacity.
The Chronicle thinks even if the allegation against the police is proven beyond reasonably doubt, that would not exonerate the organisers from what happened. They have the responsibility to ensure that the stadium was filled with the required capacity.
The Chronicle is really sad about the Kumasi incident, because few months ago a similar incident occurred at the Sekondi Sports Stadium, when about 25,000 soccer fans were packed into the stadium, which has capacity of 21,000.
The Chairman of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Mr. Kwasi Nyantekyi, and his Public Relations Officer (PRO), Randy Abbey, were seen on national television promising that the incident would not occur again, because they had learnt their lesson from it.
Though we are not holding them entirely responsible for what happened, we think it is regrettable that they could not use their influence to ensure that all stadia in the country do not exceed the required capacity during soccer matches.
To avoid a repeat of this obvious ignorance, The Chronicle suggests that organisers of soccer matches be made to sign an undertaking to take full responsibility for any disasters that would occur, as a result of their negligence. We believe that if this were done, it would help to save lives. It has happened to the Accra and Kumasi stadia, we do not know how the situation would be, should it happen in other stadia.
We take this opportunity to thank the Ghana National Fire Service, for the crucial role they played at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi last Sunday.
According to reports, they had to spray cool water onto the packed crowd in the stands, to cool down temperatures. But for their timely intervention, the death toll would have been very high.
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