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The Accra Sports Stadium Disaster: A Lesson Learnt For A Hefty Cost

On 9th May 2001, two of the most successful sides in the local league in Ghana took on each other at the Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra and it converted into a disaster. When 127 innocent people lost their lives.

Last updated: 08.05.2019
The Accra Sports Stadium Disaster | Sports Social Blog

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Like every other game on this planet, football is also directed towards the entertainment of the fans. The football fans are blood and bone of the game and keep the heart pumping and adrenaline rushing with their unique ways of supporting their sides. They run onto the field, they sing the team anthems with passion, they cherish the wins of their sides, they cry of despair when they lose. However, at times, they even have to lay down their lives in unfortunate incidents, like the one that happened 2001 in Ghana, infamously known as the Accra Sports Stadium Disaster.

On 9th May 2001, two of the most successful sides in the local league in Ghana took on each other at the Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra, in the form of Accra Hearts of Oak (The Phobians) Sporting Club and Asante Kotoko (Porcupine Warriors) Sporting Club. Crowd disturbances were primarily anticipated by the officials and they had already taken extra security measures but no one had probably thought of a massacre on such a magnanimous level.

On the day, Kotoko were leading by 1-0 for most of the match. However, Accra managed to score two late goals in the last quarter of the match, resulting in a 2-1 victory that did not go well with the Kotoko fans. As an aftermath of the disappointing result, they started throwing the plastic seats on the pitch along with bottles. The police tried to control the situation by firing tear gas and plastic bullets at the crowd, which reportedly made the situation worse. The spectators started to run for the exits that were far too less in numbers and caused a bottleneck situation, resulting in a stampede which caused compressive asphyxia that took the lives of 116 spectators. 10 others died of trauma.


It was indeed a black day not only in the history of Ghanaian but also African football. It is said that the medical staff had already left the stadium and a number of gates were locked to prevent escape. An official enquiry was set up which blamed the police of over-reacting to the situation and eventually six police officers were charged with the murder of 127 victims. However, the court finally could not come to the conclusion about whether the asphyxia was caused due to the tear gas or for the stampede.

Whatever the reason would have been, the loss of 127 innocent lives is never an expected outcome from a football match, especially when it is the game that bind people with one another irrespective of their culture, caste, creed or colour. Probably that is why even today, when the fans attend a match at the stadium, they chant “Never Again! Never Again!” to remind them of the cursed day and the lost lives in the massacre that still remains as one of the saddest days in the history of world football.

Here's a small footage

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