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11.01.2006 Football News

A dangerous undertaking!


(A GNA feature by Veronica Commey)

Accra, Jan 9, GNA - Last Sunday's pitch invasion by soccer fans that gave birth to the abrupt end of the Hearts-Olympics game in the Nii Amugi Challenge Cup at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium in Accra last week must have taken lovers of the beautiful game aback.

However for folks like us who prior to the game expressed reservations about the safety of the arena, which is currently under massive construction, the unpleasant scene was to be expected. With criticism flying in from quarters over who permitted the use of the stadium, I have read of few attempts by the parties involved to hide under the supposed undertaking signed among them to stay out of the blame.

This clearly give off those who are frantically attempting to hide behind a supposed undertaking by the clubs, the National Sports Council (NSC), custodians of the stadium and the Ga Traditional Council (GTC), main the organizers.

Evidently, reading the documents of the agreement that said, "All parties are aware that the current situation of the stadium is not conducive as security and safety of players and supporters cannot be guaranteed" has raised more questions than answers. It was obvious that the undertaking was worth the risk exposed to people that thronged the arena.

It was therefore an apparent careless and dangerous agreement that risked lives in the name of money no matter the justification the parties involved are trying to put up.

To validate the authorities approval with such fragile explanations knowing the danger attached, was a negligence of the highest order, an act, which nothing can rationalize.

To have relegated the fact that lives cannot be risked to the background when venues like the El-Wak Stadium was available remains unexplainable; not when the contractors had warned about the dangers the stadium represents.

If it is a known fact that even pitches with inner parameters have easily attracted high level of hooliganism with indiscipline supporters somehow managing to register their displeasure at the least provocation in various forms, whatever influenced the endorsement is needless. Pelting water and removing seats at officials in the past must have served as relevant warning signs to the organizers and how someone allowed himself to be deluded that the supporters would behave in clashes of such magnitude under such an environment is a mystery. It is ironic to comprehend how the parties could have convinced themselves that supporters would put up their best behaviour against the backdrop that Hearts were solely in a strong pursuit of revenge after their humiliating 0-3 only a fortnight earlier.

Again, because of the sensitive nature of such games, none needed a reminder that to okay the usage of the stadium was a sign of laxity. I will be the last to attempt a justification for the supporters' shameful deed, but it remains a truism that whoever approved the venue took the riskiest decision, bearing in mind the May 9 disaster and a series of other unpopular happenings in recent times. The supporters themselves had no business taking the law into their hands no matter the provocation.

Such irresponsible acts bring back the usual clamour for the need to identify with the help of video cameras among other gadgets to punish culprits of such unacceptable practices that bring forth qualms about the country's readiness to host any major competition.

Supporters of such characters obviously don't deserve to throng our arenas for the love of the globular leather, which undisputedly produces a passion that is strong enough to bond rather than segregate. To say the outcome of the match also represents a test of character to the Ghana Football Association's (GFA) ability to halt such occurrences by dealing ruthlessly with clubs and fans irrespective of their background is to state the obvious.

With the season in sight, it also presents the precise time for the Federation to prove why they must be taken seriously as being capable of hitting hard on offenders when need be. Chaoo! Lets rethink and protect our passion to save lives. 09 Jan 06