Hooliganism in Ghana sports

Football hooliganism refers to unruly, violent, and destructive behaviour by overzealous supporters of football clubs, including brawling, vandalism and intimidation.

Football hooliganism normally involves conflict between supporters, in some countries they are formed for the specific purpose of intimidating and physically attacking supporters of other teams.

Certain clubs have long-standing rivalries with other clubs (usually, but not always, geographically close) and hooliganism associated with matches between them (sometimes called local derbies), is likely to be more severe.

Conflict may take place before, during or after matches. Conflict can also erupt spontaneously inside the stadium or in the surrounding streets. In extreme cases, hooligans, police, and bystanders have been affected. Football hooliganism involves a wide range of behaviour, including taunting, e.g. by abusive chanting, sometimes obscene, spitting, unarmed fighting, throwing of objects on to the pitch, either in an attempt to harm players and officials or as a gesture of insult (as when bananas are thrown towards players of black African origin, the implication being that they are monkeys).

Throwing of objects at opposing supporters, including stones, water,etc and the use of pyrotechnic devices such as flames and smoke bombs, fighting with weapons including sports bats, glass bottles, rocks, knives, machetes and firearms.

Disorderly crowd behaviour such as pushing, which may cause stadium fixtures such as fences, inner parameters and walls to collapse. Similar effects can occur when law-abiding crowds try to flee disorder caused by hooligans.

Ask me whether football fans have learnt any lessons from Ghana’s worst stadium disaster and I will answer with an emphatic ‘NO’. Thirteen years after that fatal incident and fans still go to different stadia in the country and continue to put up untoward behavior to the detriment of other fans with well-meant intentions. It is quite disheartening how fans pounce on referees and beat them to points of death; how coaches give tell-tale clues regarding what fans may want do to referees in the future; and how security personnel arbitrate helplessly stadium altercations because a certain white paper bars them from wielding guns at stadia. Honestly, I am of a strong opinion that there should be a review of issues relating to the 2001 May 9 Disaster.

It was with profound regret that Ghanaians learnt of the tragic death of referee Kwame AndohKyei over the last weekend.The assistant referee suffered injuries after he was beaten up during the second division match between Gold Stars and Naa Joe United in Bordie last week Sunday.

 He died on Friday after being rushed to the hospital earlier in the day because of the injuries. Mr Speaker the crowd violence associated with the Bordie park has been in existence in ages, I can recollect during my football playing days when I was in sixth form, we went to play a match there and we were beaten, some of us has to run and meet the school bus at the outskirt of the town to catch our bus back to school in Dunkwa.

How can a job at the lower division which remunerates not more than a meagre È»20 Ghana cedis per match be alternated with death? The 21 year old referee Kwame Kyeiwho’s believed to be an SHS graduate was practicing a passion he loves, he was regarded as one of the association’s most promising up and coming referees and was highly respected by his peers.

Just last Sunday, another referee Ali Alhassan from Tamale was beaten by fans of Unity FC in a match against Techiman City Fc at Goaso. The referee showed a red card to a Unity FC player after the player deliberately forced the ball with his hand into the opponent goal area. The referee disallowed the goal and shown the player a red card. The act occurred at the full glare of the ethic committee chairman Nana Adjei.

Surprisingly though, Ghanaian football fans are one of the most tolerant in the world. But this accolade is only applicable when a Ghanaian team is playing outside the borders of the country. Hardly is there news of Ghanaian fans misbehaving after the Black Stars or a club side lose a match away. It is rather the obverse that happens: Ghanaian fans are grossly attacked on foreign lands even when their teams lose. Ironically, Hearts and Kotoko fans would rather want to fight each other on home soil. Many efforts have been put in place to curb this esoteric form of in-fighting. The various national supporters unions have put in efforts to educate registered members on how to render unflinching support to national teams, or dare I say the Black Stars.

The incident kept me wondering whether these fans, and by extension the Ghanaian football populace, have learnt any lessons from that ‘Black Wednesday’ disaster. Perhaps, much has not been done over the years to educate fans on the need to be peaceable and peaceful even against the run of play. Each and every year, seminars are held in order to smoothen the fluted edges regarding the prevention of stadium disasters. Nonetheless, Ghana continues to record crowd troubles at least at a venue each and every premier league season

Am calling on the ministry of Youth and sports to quickly submit the much awaited new Sports Bill to parliament to helpsolve the current trend of hooliganismin Ghana Football. The passing of the Sports Bill will replace the SMC Decree 54 of 1976 regarding the various aspects of Sports management, promotion and development in Ghana and seeks to make it current for international practices.

 Am admonishing the various football clubs at the various divisions to play a big role in educating their fans that hooliganism has no place in our game. Club officials should rather dissuade their fans from fighting or attacking match official or opponents during matches. It’s not proper, it’s not professional, and it’s inhumane to attack anybody no matter his or her crime. Sports fans are not above the laws of the land.

Information reaching me indicates that the Referees Association chairman in the Western Region, T.R.K Atifu, has warned that referees in the region will boycott lower division matches in solidarity with their colleague who was beaten to death by irate.According to Mr.Atifu, until some drastic measures are taken by the GFA against supporters of the team involved and the security of colleague referees guaranteed, they wouldn’t handle lower division matches in the region again.

This is a quote from him whenghanasportsonline.cominterviewed him, “Refereeing in the lower division is just a hobby. No referee survives on the 20 Ghana Cedis paid them as allowance. So if officiating matches will result in loss of lives then we wouldn’t handle matches henceforth until the GFA takes some drastic measures to guarantee our safety.”

Mr Speaker,am proposingthat you use your chair to press on the Ministry of Youth and sports to submit the sports Bill to the housefor us to consider our inputs in curbing this act of violence in our stadia for once.The Disciplinary committee of Ghana Football Association should be strong on it by laws as well and drastic and permanent measures should be put in place and am ready to lead the crusade for violence free in Ghana sports in collaboration with all the supporters groups we have in the country.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his mother Sophia Nketiah, his father Kwadwo Appiah, his family and his wide circle of friends at this sad time.

Long live Ghana sports…