May 9, 2001.
For the international audience it may be just another date. In Ghana, that date brings black memories for genuine football fans and Ghanaians in general. 8 years ago on that day, 127 lovers of football died at the then Accra Sports Stadium. They had gone to see the crunch game between Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko and the chaos occurred when fans stampeded after police fired teargas into a stand in that fateful league match.
A committee of enquiry set up to investigate the circumstances that led to the tragedy recommended the prosecution of the police officers who handled security on the fateful day. The officers have since been tried and acquitted of manslaughter.
Though the government paid 10 million old Ghana cedis or US$1000 apiece to families of the victims, that did little to help such dependants recover from the trauma and reality of losing a loved one and breadwinner for ever.
As a country we should do more for these unfortunate ones and here at sports world, we hope and pray that some remedial action, however belated it is will be taken as we mark 8 years tomorrow.
Football matches in Ghana are still plagued by organizational problems and a lot of our stadia and parks are still death traps rather than avenues for sportsmanship and the government and football authorities need to take urgent action on such issues.
Herbert Mensah, former Chief Executive Officer of Kotoko telling his bit at a memorial service a couple of years ago in Accra.