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24.11.2011 Opinion

Security fallout from Super Clash continues

By Gary Al-Smith/
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The Super Clash between Kotoko and Hearts ended four days ago but the fallout of security arrangements before, during and after the game continues. understands despite telling efforts by Ghana's best security agencies to keep incidents that could mar the hyped premier league game, unsavory incidents are still drawing commentary. A portrait of Sunday's security assessment by attempts to give a clearer picture.

Before kickoff
This seems the most contentious part of the lapses recorded that day. reported four days before the game that about 1000 joint forces were to be deployed, with the breakdown being 500 officers from the Ghana Police Service, 45 National Fire Service staff, 40 officers from the National Security Council, 30 platoon corps from the military, 15 military police and 10 personnel from the Bureau of National Investigations. The rest were plain-clothed and auxiliary officers.

All these personnel had identity tags specially made for the game. These tags extended to officials and recognized personnel from Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko. However, there have been conflicting reports about members of both teams being accredited when they should not have been, with the result being accusations of exploitation of the system from both sides.

Kotoko officials maintain that a group of ladies given access to the dressing rooms should not have been there, with Hearts countering by accusing two Kotoko officials, Kwame Baah-Nuako and Jerry Asare, of being there without passes. checks show that at the pre-match security briefing, eighteen (18) players and seven (7) officials were given to each team. Two special tags were given Messieurs Baah Nuako and Asare as well, making a total of twenty-seven (27).

What this continued argument hopes to achieve is not quite clear, but both sides maintain finding the guilty party is important to forestall such happenings in the future.

Mystery sweepers
During the warm-up, two unidentified men, one of whom is pictured above, entered the inner perimeter of the stadium and used brooms to sweep one half of the field. The brooms were wrapped in Hearts colours and were believed to have been used to sweep any goals to be scored by Kotoko away.

The match ended goalless, but fans who have called for the security agencies to have stopped he two men from getting access in the first place were corrected by Michael Smart Abbey of the Security Unit of the Sports Authority. “People must know that there are rules governing these things. Immediately the match starts, the power to call security at any match venue is the hands of only the match commissioner. Yes, we saw the two men. But by the rules, it was only the match commissioner who could have called us to take them off the field. He did not ask us to do it so we also did not.”

Missile throwers
Referee Awal Mohammed had a good game, but for periods of the match his decisions caused Kotoko fans at the Conference Center End, Independence End and InterContinental Bank End of the stadium to react. Fans were shown throwing varied objects onto the field and had to be pleaded with by both sets of players and police to stop. No arrests were made.

Four journalists were heckled at the entrances of the dressing rooms after the game in the keenness to get interviews from players and officials after the game. Since there were no post-match mixed zones, the only option was to use the media accreditation used to enter the stadium to get access to the dressing room and team bus areas. A few security personnel were unaware of the press tags for the day and gave journalists a roughing up. There were also four isolated reports of Hearts and Kotoko fans being beaten by opposing supporters.

'Largely successful'
Despite these incidents, observers have applauded the efforts put into ensuring a decorous atmosphere at the stadium. Days after the game, Michael Smart Abbey of the Security Unit of the Sports Authority told TV3's Midday News on Wednesday that “proceedings were largely successful”. He however admitted the perhaps more public education was needed for officials and fans. “Fans need to be told throwing objects and things only raises the emotional temperature, which is dangerous. We cannot afford things like that, especially with the history of these two teams in the recent past.”

Hearts and Kotoko are scheduled to meet again in the second round of the premier league in Kumasi next year.

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