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11.11.2005 Sports News

Hooliganism of the highest order!

By Statesman
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THE curtain on the GT Premiership is expected to be lowered at the various league centres Sunday evening. And whilst the championship aspirants must be strategising on how to actualise their objective, the lowly-placed clubs must also be feeling jittery about the prospect of being relegated.

But at the close of the day, history will be written that the 2005 GT Premiership was almost wrecked by acts of hooliganism during the Asante Kotoko/Real Tamale United 29th week game at the Tamale Kaladan Park last Sunday, which had to be abruptly ended.

So nasty was the incident that it has taken the shine and enthusiasm out of the last round of matches. And nobody should be deceived into thinking that had the ugly incident not occurred and the Kotoko/RTU match gone the full 90 minutes, there would not have been a crisis meeting at the Professional League Board or the Disciplinary Committee of the Ghana Football Association, days after the ill-fated match.

But what ever the outcome of the Disciplinary Committee's investigations, the fact still remains that the Tamale soccer fans dished out the unkindest cut at the integrity of Ghana soccer. They, therefore, must bow down their heads in shame for bringing the GT Premiership into disrepute.

Of course, the management of RTU, have honourably apologised to the GFA, PLB, Kotoko, Referees Association of Ghana, journalists who covered the match, Wienco Ghana Limited, RTU's sponsors, and the referee who handled the match. But it must be emphasised that the behaviour of the Tamale hooligans must be condemned in no uncertain terms. Indeed, there was no reason for the senseless behaviour of the fans whose criminal acts could have ended in the loss of lives, had the Army and the Police not intervened to secure the safety of the referee, players and officials of Asante Kotoko and the journalists who covered the match.

What the hooligans forgot was that for Ghana to be awarded the bid to host CAN 2008, much consideration was taken on issues relating to the safety of players, officials and fans who will be participating in the continental championship. There is no earthly reason why the Tamale fans should have behaved the way did after the referee flashed a yellow card at an RTU player for a bookable offence. Currently, work on the construction of one of the three new CAN 2008 sports stadia at Tamale has taken off with the clearing of the site. The project would be done at great cost to this country. What is the guarantee that when the project is finally completed, those hooligans will not in the future damage property at the site?

Of course, other league venues like Nkawkaw, Cape Coast and Kpando have experienced similar ugly scenes this season. And one wonders whether Ghanaian soccer fans have not learned any lessons from the May 9 2001 disaster at the Ohene Djan Stadium, where over a hundred lives were lost and several others sustained injuries.

It is important that fans learn to behave, no matter the provocation from opposing camps. And that's why the passion for sports, especially soccer, should not be expressed in acts of violence and rowdyism. Whilst condemning the Tamale incident, sports fans must not forget that the long arm of the law would always catch up with those who wouldn't have the heart to accept defeat in sports. Let's always watch out against such miscreants in sports.

The GT Premiership comes to a close Sunday with Asante Kotoko most likely to take the league diadem, despite the problems that caused their game against RTU to be abandoned in the closing minutes.

Undoubtedly, this league has seen lots of postponements and rescheduling of league matches. But God willing, the season will come to a close Sunday. We hope the coming soccer season would run smoothly, considering the hectic calendar ahead – CAN 2006 in Egypt and the World Cup in Germany a few months later.

Till next week, that's the way it is!

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