Sports News of Monday, 22 October 2001

Source: Public Agenda

Accra Stadium Disaster: Policemen On Murder Charge

The policemen at the center of the Accra Sports Stadium Disaster of May 9, 2001 are to be put before court on provisional charges of murder and manslaughter.

According to a Government White Paper on the Okudzeto Commission sighted by Public Agenda, the policemen were found culpable for the tragedy which claimed 126 lives and injured over 300 spectators during the fourth week league match between arch rivals Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

The White Paper slammed police response to acts of hooliganism by a section of the crowd at the North Stand of the stadium, saying it was intended more to punish than control the rioters. It descended heavily on police witnesses who openly lied about their roles and those of their colleagues to mislead the commission.

The White Paper endorsed the commission's recommendation that a series of training programmes should be organized for the police to equip them to deal with flashpoints not only at the various stadia but in all aspects of the Ghanaian society.

Henceforth, policemen who were not assigned duties would no more be allowed entry into any of the stadia throughout the country.

The management style of Enoch Teye Mensah, former Minister of Youth and Sports as the political head of sports promotion in the regime of ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, also came in for criticism. The White paper endorsed the findings of the Commission which established that the overbearing presence of the former Minister intimidated officers of the National Sports Council to the extent that most officials of the NSC shied away from taking major decisions on their own, apportioning part of the blame on the indecisiveness of leading officials of the Council.

One casualty of this perceived timidity is the Acting Chief Executive of the Sports Council Brigadier George Brock. The retired army officer is to be dismissed from his post with immediate effect.

The Government wondered why clubs using facilities provided by the Sports Council for league matches paid only a pittance of gate proceeds towards the maintenance of the various football arenas and other properties of the NSC. To this end, the White Paper ordered a review of the share of the proceeds of the Sports Council at football matches.

The Government view facilities provided by the Accra Sports Stadium for major sporting events as woefully inadequate in the construction of the National construction of the National Olympic Complex, the site of which was said to have been acquired by the Rawlings regime at a place near the Accra-Tema Motorway.

The White paper slammed the quality of chairs at the Accra Sports Stadium which was easily torn apart by irate fans and ordered a thorough examination to establish their suitability or otherwise to accommodate sports fans.