Accra, Jan. 23, GNA - Ghana soccer was given a black eye on Sunday when the May 9, Accra Sports Stadium disaster in which 127 fans were killed in 2001 was re-enacted at the same venue.
The only difference though was that no lives were lost.
In almost a similar fashion, angry Kotoko fans ripped off the re-fixed seats at the May 9 stands (formerly Ade Coker Stands) together with some missiles notably bottled water and hurled them unto the tartan tracks in reaction to what they described as bad officiating by Accra-based referee J. O. Lamptey.
It all started minutes before the break when the "red army" fans sported in their favourites red replica Kotoko jerseys decided to fling missiles at paid securities within the inner perimeter to register their protest against some inconsistence in the interpretation of the rules of the game by the referee. The feeble-looking policemen took cover while some begged the fans to stop.
Referee Lamptey was subsequently prevented from entering the changing room situated beneath the May 9 Stands during recess. Sequel to this, security personnel had to move him to the old dressing room located underneath the VIP Stands to avoid further confrontations.
Kotoko's opponents, Kpando Heart of Lions, opened the scores in the 46th minutes when Sadat Bukari applied his head to a lob from the right flanks but the goal was cancelled by Osei Kwame in the 73rd minute from what connoisseurs believe looked like a seemingly off-side.
But it became obvious from the 60th minute mark that referee Lamptey had lost control of the beautiful game as he ignored some crunchy tackles from both sides.
What perhaps sparked off the riots was an incident, which occurred, in the 64th minute. The referee ignored an obvious penalty to Lions and in order to perhaps compensate them, awarded a dubious 86th-minute spot kick, which was met with a spontaneous reaction from the Kotoko fans. Not even a security beefed-up by the Military police could stop the fans from ripping off the seats while both Kotoko players and officials left for the dressing room.
Aware of the repercussion of the Mar 9 disaster in which some police officers were accused of overreacting, the confused policemen could not help but to beg the fans as a lot more with sniffer dogs stood aloof.
Kotoko's Accra representative Jerry Asare became the "bouncer" for the day as he prevented officials from the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA) and the sponsors, Coca Cola, from getting to the players as he locked the gates leading to the dressing room. Minutes later, the Kotoko players were in their bus, made a momentary stoppage at the main Stadium gate as they received applauds from the teeming fans for their "bravery".
Organisers, GHALCA, told the press that the match has been postponed.