Mensah remembers martyrs of May 9

Herbert MensahFormer Kumasi Asante Kotoko boss, Herbert Mensah in a statement on the 6th anniversary of the May 9 Stadium disaster has counselled relatives and loved ones of victims to remain strong in the belief that God continues to watch over their lost ones.

Mensah said the ultimate sacrifice made by their loved ones which brought about a realisation for the need to redefine the parameters of stadia security and safety has propelled them into martyrdom.

“It is six long years since the bitter events of the fateful night, but the tragedy is still fresh in my mind and I believe in the minds of relatives and loved ones and indeed most Ghanaians.

“While we pray for the souls of the Martyrs of May 9, we enjoin all Ghanaians not to forget the sad events of that fateful day. The memory of that disaster should enjoin us to uphold the spirit of unity and love and avoid turning sporting events into bitter events of rivalry.”

Mensah said while a lot of effort has gone into changing the face of soccer officiating and match security in the country a lot still needs to be done.

“Football matches in Ghana are still plagued by organisational 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.”

The renowned sports administrator lamented the dearth of sponsorship in the game and said it was imperative that the current FA while riding high on the successes of the Black Stars identifies avenues to properly resource the Premier League and indeed lower leagues.

“That will ensure that clubs can within the short to medium term plan to build their own stadia to standards that exist not even in Europe but elsewhere on the continent and by so doing guarantee the safety of both players and fans,” he added.

Mensah, currently a Consultant of Prosport Ghana Limited, a player management consultancy said dependants of May 9 are still struggling to make ends meet because a lot of them lost breadwinners of their families.

“Though the government paid 10 million cedis 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 I pray that some remedial action however belated it is will be taken as we mark today.”

Families of victims in Accra and Kumasi received donations of foodstuff and cash from Mensah at ceremonies in both Accra and Kumasi.

126 fans of Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak died on May 9 2001 when fans stampeded after police fired teargas into a stand during a Hearts – Kotoko 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.

May 9, 2007

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