Ghana witnessed a horrifying incident after a football match involving rival clubs Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko at the Accra Sports Stadium, in which 127 football fans perished, when policemen on duty at the stadium threw tear gas at rioting supporters in the stands.
Tagged Black Wednesday, it represents the darkest day in Ghanaian football history. The ceremony, which took place in front of the May 9 memorial monument, had representatives of both Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko attending.
The Director General of Sports at the National Sports Authority (NSA), Mr Joseph kpenge, in a brief welcome address urged supporters to reflect on what happened some 15 years ago “to guide us any time we go to support our clubs at the various stadia.”
The Ghana Football Association (GFA) president, Mr Kwesi Nyantakyi, in his speech said “in remembering the dead it is also a time to sound a word of caution to the living to remind ourselves of the hard lessons of the disaster that occurred. The incident has taught the football federation lessons that has influenced our regulations and status of the association, to the extent that we look very hard at violent conducts at our games.”
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Nii Lante Vanderpuye, extended his sympathies to the people of Ghana and family members of the victims on behalf of the President, saying that, “as I stand here today I wish the families God’s protection, shelter, favour and blessings in whatever they do”.
Mr Vanderpuye urged all to eschew violent conducts in sports, “It is still a long way doing away with total violence in our stadia but I am sure with appropriate steps and proper security measures, we are sure to arrive at our destination where we shall go to the stadium and in spite of our frustrations leave in peace and as a united family “he said.
The commemoration was attended by stakeholders within the sports fraternity, including the Referees Association of Ghana, Ghalca, the Ghana Football Association and a number of supporter groups.
The wreath laying was done by the Minister of Sports, a representative from the bereaved families and representatives of both Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.