Ghana Rugby pays tribute to May 9th stadium disaster victims

The Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) showed solidarity with the families of the 2001 May 9th Stadium Disaster victims by turning up in their numbers at the annual May 9th Remembered street march in Kumasi, Ghana.

The Accra Sport Stadium disaster occurred at the then Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra, Ghana on May 9, 2001. It took the lives of 127 soccer fans, making it the worst stadium disaster to have ever taken place in Africa and the second worst recorded stadium disaster in history.

The disaster occurred during a match between Ghana’s two most successful football teams, Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club and Asante Kotoko. Trouble had been anticipated, and extra security measures had been taken but it appeared not to be enough.

The home side scored two late goals to defeat Kotoko 2–1 which led to disappointed Kotoko fans throwing plastic seats and bottles onto the pitch. The response to this crowd disturbance from the police was to fire tear gas into the crowd.

Panic ensued and a resulting stampede led to the deaths from compressive asphyxia of 127 people.

Mr. Herbert Mensah, former Chairman of Asante Kotoko and current President of Ghana Rugby, and a group of people supported by key sponsors have religiously remembered the tragedy since 2001.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of that tragic event and various activities have taken place including a ceremony at the May 9th statue in Accra and prayers at the Kumasi Mosque.

The low priority given to the event by the sports authorities in Ghana has prompted a group of Rugby players to embark on the journey from Accra to Kumasi to join in the annual May 9th Remembered street march to show their respects.

According to one of the Rugby players the disaster not only shocked the football fraternity in Ghana and indeed the world, but all people and specifically all sport people and fans.

“It is indeed an event that should be remembered by all and should never be forgotten. The families of the Hillsborough stadium disaster fought for 27 years for justice and got it in the end through dogged perseverance. Many of us in Ghana still wonder if justice triumphed in the hearings held here,” he said.

The Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) is currently preparing for its international Africa Rugby Men’s Sevens tournament slated to take place on 28 May 2016 in Lome, Togo.

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