We have on two occasions used this column to express our concern about the incidences that occurred at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, during the Kototo-Hearts Glo Premier League match last week Sunday. We have decided to carry out this campaign until the negligence of our leaders are exposed and punished. When the May 9th tragedy occurred, we all resolved that 'Never Again' should precious lives be lost through official laxity. With the latest Kumasi incident, The Chrionicle holds the view that heads must roll and lessons must be learnt.
Though a Director of Asante Kotoko, Mr. Baah Nuako had alleged that he personally saw Police officers collecting money from football fans and allowing them passage into the stadium when the facility was already full to capacity, we could not take on the police because there was no collaborative evidence to prove the allegation. The Police have also made counter allegations against the Management of Kumasi Asante Kotoko by specifically accusing the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Sylvester Owusu Asare as the one who organised people and also personally collected gate fees from the fans who jumped over the wall to enter the stadium at the time the stands were already full.
Few days after the Police accusations, Mr. Owusu Asare came out to confirm the story. A report carried by the Graphic Sports last Friday quoted the Kotoko CEO as saying that he received GH¢820 from fans who scaled the wall to enter the stadium. Though Mr. Asare Owusu tried to justify why he had to take that action, The Chronicle thinks he must partly be blamed for the deaths that occurred at the stadium. According to the CEO, when report got to him that some of the fans were jumping over the wall at the Scoreboard area of the stadium, which report he personally confirmed, he therefore decided to collect money from the recalcitrant fans in order to maximise gate proceeds.
This admission alone shows that Mr. Asare Owusu was at the stadium and saw that the stands were filled to capacity. For him to have later ordered that money be collected from the erring fans, instead of calling the attention of the Police to stop their behaviour, is enough proof that he also contributed to the situation that led to the overcrowding at the stadium. The Chronicle has nothing against Mr. Sylvester Asare, but we think he exhibited irresponsible behaviour on the said day and must be called to answer for it.
What happened at the then Accra Sports Stadium on May 9th, 2001, should have been enough warning to the Kotoko CEO to have advised the fans from scaling over the wall into the stadium, but surprisingly this never occurred to him. The Chronicle takes this development seriously, because we cannot be 'murdering' innocent people in such a reckless manner in the name of football. Those who lost their lives may be the breadwinners in their respective families, but today they are no more because of the negligence of some people who should have known better.
The Chronicle is anxiously waiting for the presidential inquiry to start and we promise to closely monitor the committee's work. This time, we hope that the recommendations of the committee would be fully implemented to the letter, so that as a Nation we nip this canker in the bud. We are calling on the committee to be set up to make indepth investigations to ascertain whether the Police did collect money from the fans as being alleged by Mr. Baah Nuamah, so that they would also be punished if they are found culpable.
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