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Opinions of Friday, 10 March 2017

Columnist: John Vigah

Misguided attack on a harmless sports photographer

By: John Vigah


In this age where females the world over are being goaded to step up to the plate and dare into male-dominated areas, there are a group of people whose only passion is to see to it that the ‘weaker’ sex are flushed out of sight.

That was, perhaps, exactly the distressing picture that was portrayed at the Accra Sports Stadium last week when ace Ghanaian photographer, Senyuiedzorm Awusi Adadevoh, was virtually hauled out of the inner perimeter during the Accra Great Olympics-West Africa Football Academy (WAFA) fifth week Ghana Premier League tie.

The crunch game ended barren. But the result, Oly’s second home draw, did not matter. What mattered was the unwarranted attack on the poor, harmless woman who had only entered into the stadium to do her professional job. Nothing else! This was a job she had been doing for nearly a decade.

What was Senyuiedzorm’s crime? The award-winning photographer, who is as harmless as a trash-talking flower, was charged by a section of the fans to have sent out off-putting reports about the club during an earlier league game against Bechem United in their 1-3 home defeat. What negative reports? Did Oly play well on the day?

She was also accused by the Olympics fans as being a bad omen at the club’s games. According to some of the home fans who started it all, her presence had never given Oly victory – and that was enough to curtail her professional duties on the day.

If by now, Olympics think their horrifying performance in the league had to do with the metaphysics rather than realism, then it is rather unfortunate. Simple truth is that the club is not playing well because the quality of players in their fold is not worth the candle. That should be the team’s focus if they really want to beat the drop and avert yet another embarrassing exit from the top flight.

Amazingly, the astute photographer was towed away in the presence of high ranking police officers and senior club officials who looked on sheepishly amid strong protestation from the poor lady. It is simply incredible. It is purely uncanny, creepy and spine-chilling.

To think of having a top management member of the club, in the person of Olloboi Commodore, supervising the damnable act, leaves a sour taste in the mouth of many – including the victim whose talent in photography is increasingly becoming phenomenal.

Little wonder, many followers of Senyuiedzorm’s works of bravura are comparing her to the great Anna-Lou Leibovitz, the great American photographer who took pictures of the celebrated John Lennon of Beatles fame, on the day he was assassinated (December 8, 1980).

It is, therefore, not out of place to see a statement from the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) condemning the unwarranted onslaught and dismissal of the budding photographer from the stadium.

Indeed, the SWAG in a statement on Monday described as irresponsible and barbaric the attacks on Senyuiedzorm and other journalists at some league centres in recent times.

A statement from the secretariat of the Association, said the latest attack on Miss Senyuidzorm Adadevoh, by some fans of Accra Great Olympics must be condemned in no uncertain terms.

"What is more worrying is the attack was supervised by a management member of the club, Mr. Olloboi Commodore, who supported the act of the fans calling for the exit of the journalist, from the inner perimeter of the stadium. A similar incident happened at Dormaa Ahenkro as Aduana played Hearts.

"SWAG is also saddened by the fact that some of these attacks on journalists were done in the full glare of security personal, club owners and officials, who sometimes watched on whilst journalists are beaten for carrying out their basic functions.

"Such acts will not in any way help in the development and promotion of the league, especially at these trying moments, when the league is bereft of corporate sponsorship. We can only attract the needed sponsorship to support clubs, if supporters and officials desist from such acts,” the statement noted.

The statement said journalists must be given the needed protection and conducive environment to discharge their duties without fear or favour.

"All stakeholders, especially the security, must ensure media personnel are given adequate protection before, during and after matches to ensure our safety and security,” it said.

The statement called on the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to take severe actions against supporters of clubs that attack journalists in their duty lines and warned that should these incidents recur, SWAG will not hesitate to go at all lengths and react including but not limiting to asking journalists and media houses to boycott all activities of the league.

For a woman who has covered countless number of international assignments that included World Cups, Commonwealth and Olympic Games as well as Nations Cup tournaments, what happened at the Accra Sports Stadium, may have come as huge shock to her.

But Senyuiedzorm is a strong-willed, passionate, determined and doughty-charactered woman who would readily take this as an occupational hazard, get focused and move on with what she does best – exquisite photography!

But it is high time our sports administrators embraced us as partners in development and not see us as people whose sole interest at the sport venues is to put sand into their 'gari.' Just like sports journalists, sports photographers are there to report what they see as news. Nothing more!

To the winning team, it could be great news - but it might seem horrific to the losing side. That is how the game is, and there is nothing the sports journalist or photographer can do about it.