Home General News The May 9th, 2001 Accra Sports Stadium Disaster

The May 9th, 2001 Accra Sports Stadium Disaster

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The Ghanaian football community will forever remember the tragic events of May 9th at the Accra Sports Stadium as one of the darkest incidents in recent history.

It was a clash between bitter rivals Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak in the Ghana Premier League.

The incident resulted in the loss of approximately 127 lives, marking it as the most devastating stadium disaster in Africa and the third deadliest football calamity globally, following the tragedies in Peru’s Estadio Nacional and Indonesia’s Kanjuruhan Stadium.

On May 9, 2001, twenty-three years ago, a large crowd gathered at the Accra Sports Stadium to witness the highly anticipated match between Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko, a significant fixture in the local league.

The country’s two most successful football clubs faced off that day, with authorities increasing security measures in anticipation of potential crowd disturbances.

After Hearts of Oak secured a 2–1 victory with two late goals, Kotoko fans, angered by the outcome, threw objects onto the pitch in frustration.

In response, law enforcement officers deployed tear gas into the crowd, triggering chaos and a stampede as fans tried to escape.

The stadium’s inadequate design led to a bottleneck situation with fewer exits than necessary, resulting in locked gates.

In the aftermath, it was revealed that 10 fans died from trauma, while 116 perished from compressive asphyxia during the tragic event.

Abdul Mohammed, a devoted fan, was mistakenly presumed dead after collapsing from tear gas exposure and being taken to a morgue.

Fortunately, he regained consciousness just in time to avoid being buried alive.

Due to the timing of the incident near the end of the game, reports indicated that medical personnel had already left the stadium, leaving many trapped with locked exits.

An inquiry panel was set up, leading to a nationwide introspection process. As a result, play in the Ghana Premier Football League was suspended for a month.

The Accra Sports Stadium was refurbished to meet FIFA Standards in 2007 and later hosted the grand finale of the 2008 African Cup of Nations.

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