By: Joshua Cudjo Nyatsidzi
The game of football since its introduction, has being a source of entertainment and togetherness for all of its lovers. But in recent times, the ugly act of hooliganism has soiled the beauty of the game. The act of hooliganism is the unlawful behavior of disorderliness, rioting, bullying and the vandalism of properties by a person or a group of persons.
Ghana football has no exceptions to this act as fans of various teams in Ghana resort to hooliganism as a way of airing their views before, during or after a game. Hooliganism has not only being happening in the Premier League and Division Leagues but the National Women’s League has had its fair share of the barbaric act. Most fans of Ghanaian clubs have hooligan tendencies and are quick to act at the slightest provocation. Instead of sideling fans of some teams to lambast them, lets us instead look to condemn the act and find lasting solutions to it. Before looking at how to curb hooliganism in the country, let’s first of all take a stroll and not in chronological order, look at some of the reasons that propel the fans to embark on hooliganism.
To begin with, refereeing decisions have had a large part in the cause of hooliganism. Fans over the years always sort to attack referees and other fans when they think the referees have been bias in their officiating. The famous of them all is sadly the May 9th stadium disaster that occurred at the Accra Sports Stadium in a game between fierce rivals Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko in 2001. During that game, Asante Kotoko fans were unhappy with referee Wilson Sey’s decision to allow Hearts’ Ismael Addo’spurported offside goal to stand. The unhappy fans begun to throw objects and missiles onto the field with some vandalizing seats at the stadium. The police in their attempt to control the hooligan fans threw teargas into the crowd. The result was a stampede and the death of 127 football fans. In February 2014, 21-year-old assistant referee Kwame Andoh Kyei was murder in a second division game between Dompim Gold Stars and Naa Joe United in Bordien. He died as a result of injuries inflicted on him by hooligan fans. Andoh Kyei was beaten by Gold Stars fans after he flagged a Gold Stars goal to be offside. At the end of 90 minutes, Gold Stars lost 2-0 and the fans descended on the Andoh Kyei which resulted in his death some days later. Female referee Theresa Bremansu was attacked and mercilessly beaten by a Prison Ladies supporter after she officiated Prison Ladies 1-0 loss to AmpemDarkoa in the 1st leg semi-finals of the Women’s Special competition. To focus on the act of hooliganism on referees, I would end up writing a whole book specifically highlighting different instances. Let’s do with just this and move to the other causes of hooliganism.
The second cause of hooliganism is the performance of players on the field of play. Fans of a particular team who feel their players under perform also resort to hooliganism to register their displeasure. Notorious Kotoko fan, popularly known as Seidu, is the chief among them all in this category. He ha son several occasions attack his team for failing to deliver the results he expects from them. He even to an extend prevented Kotoko’s then head coachZradvkoLogarusic from training his players because he claimed the Kotoko team’s failure to win a game resulted in him losing a bet he had placed. Earlier this year, the same Seidu was reported to have been mobilizing some like-minded fans to again storm Kotoko’s training ground to prevent Coach C.K. Akunnor from training the lads.
The last and not the least cause of hooliganism is the dislike of fans in regards to comments by journalists. On 5th march, 2017, photojournalist Senyuidzorm Adadevor was assaulted at the Accra Sports Stadium during a game between Great Olympics and West African Football Academy (WAFA). The female journalist was confronted by some officials of Olympics for “giving them bad press”. Coincidentally on the same match day in the game between Aduana Stars and Hearts of Oak at the Agyemang Badu Park, two journalists, James Sowah and Felix Romark had to work from the stands as they reported on the game with their cell phones.
With the Ghana Football Association (GFA) under normalization, I think this might be the appropriate time to advice the FIFA appointed Normalization Committee on some measures to take in order to be able to curb hooliganism at our various stadia.
First and foremost, there should be the presence of adequate security personnel and stewards at the various match centers to be able to control hooliganism anytime it springs out its ugly head. The lack of the adequate security personnelgives hooligans the green light to misbehave knowing fully well they can’t be stopped by the few securities available. It is astonishing to note that at some match venues in Ghana, five or less security personnel are deployed to handle security issues. In those instances, the security personnel are outnumbered by the hundreds of fans present. On 24th April, 2019, some fans of Aduana Stars took hostage referee Emmanuel Eshun and his assistants at the Agyemang Badu Park after they officiated Aduana’sone all draw with Medeama SC. The police available had to call for back up before calm was restored.
Secondly, fans at the stadia should be segregated to avoid a possible coalition. In developed countries, fans do not sit too close to each as they are separated by fence wall. The separations prevents fans from going at each other when they feel maltreated. The proximity of fans to each other is not a sign of together but rather a gate way to possible hooliganism.
Also, hooligans who are caught should be made to serve jail terms to prevent others from following suit. Again in developed countries, a hooligan can serve a minimum of 100 days in jail depending on the severity of his offense. The Disciplinary Committee of the GFA have for some time being fining teams whose fans embark on hooliganism. Even though the fine serves as a source of income to the GFA, it clearly shows it has not been enough punishment to curtail hooliganism.
Despite the GFA imposing stadium bans on teams of hooligan fans, the irate fans seem not to learn their lessons. Fans see their home grounds as fortress to misbehave. The Normalization Committee should shut some match centers that always have hooligan fans to prevent the image of Ghana football to be dragged in the mud. It is astonishing to note that hooligan fans are only aggressive when their teams play inGhana. They become as harmless as a dove when the go outside the shores of Ghana to support their teams be it the national teams or their various clubs. A perfect example is in 2015 at Equatorial- Guinea. Fans of Equatorial Guinea attack the fans with bottles of water during Ghana’s 3-0 win over them in the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations. The Ghanaian fans instead of attacking back like they do back home, rather hide their tails in between their legs and sort refuge on the pitch.
Let’s all forgo hooliganism and enjoy the beauty of the game. Long live Ghana, long live Ghana football.