The National Sports Council (NSC) has refuted allegations suggesting that the recent overcrowding at the Essipong Stadium, which nearly led to a stampede was due to over printing of match tickets and security lapses on the part of the Council.
Reacting to allegations from the international media, which quoted the Ghana Football Association (GFA) for blaming the Council for overprinting match tickets leading to the overflow of soccer fans at the stadium, the Council said only nineteen thousand, six hundred and eighty four tickets were issued for the said match.
Hamah Hamid Issakah, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of NSC in a statement made available to the GNA Sports said, “as per letter with reference number 109 dated October 6, 2008 headlined “2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa prelims competition Africa zone round two (2)-match day six (6), group five (5) Ghana vrs Lesotho (Saturday 11th October, 2008) Essipong Stadium”, Commercial Associates Limited has been directed by Mr. Kweku Ampim-Darko, a Deputy General Secretary of the GFA to print tickets in respect of the match.
The statement said, the following tickets were thus printed; VIP-(Red) Complimentary tickets = 500, Media Accreditation tickets =120
West Wing (Red) [email protected]¢10.00 =4,200, East Wing (Green) tickets at GH¢4.00 =5,600, North Wing (Yellow) tickets at GH¢2.00 = 4,800, South Wing (Yellow) tickets at GH¢2.00 = 4,200, Disabled (East-Green) complimentary tickets = 40 (viii) VVIP Complimentary cards = 200, (ix) Presidential Complimentary cards totalling 19,684.
According to the statement, the 19,684 tickets printed were less than the capacity of the stadium so as to avoid over-crowding, adding that security at any stadium for all sporting activities is determined by the Police as directed by the Government's Whitepaper on the May 9, 2001 Stadium Disaster, which recommended that the Police take charge of security matters during all soccer matches.
It said the Council officially wrote to the Regional Police Command for Police protection, hence they determined the number of personnel to deploy at the event.
The statement said it seemed however that the Police was overwhelmed by the massive attendance and the zeal and determination of the crowd to catch a glimpse of the Black Stars.
This, it said, compelled the crowd to forcibly open one of the main gates to the stadium, hence the over-crowding since genuine ticket holders could not get their way into the stadium.
The statement said the Council has timelessly arranged matches of the national soccer teams, in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale, without any difficulties adding that the Essipong incident was an isolated case and the Council deeply regrets it.