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Accra Sports Stadium disaster

The Accra Sport Stadium disaster occurred at the Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra, Ghana on May 9, 2001. It took the lives of 126 people, making it the worst stadium disaster to have ever taken place in Africa.[1][2]

Accra Sport Stadium disaster
DateMay 9, 2001
LocationAccra, Ghana
Causepolice fired tear gas into the crowd, resulting in a stampede


Ghana's two most successful football teams played that day, the Accra Hearts of Oak (The Phobians) Sporting Club and the Asante Kotoko (Porcupine Warriors) Sporting Club. Officials were anticipating crowd disturbances, and had taken extra security measures. Accra scored two late goals, and a referee called 2–1 Accra, resulting in disappointed Kotoko fans throwing plastic seats and bottles onto the pitch.[2][3][4][5]

The police responded by firing tear gas into the crowd. Panic and a stampede ensued as fans tried to escape. Gates were locked and the stadium's compromised design left a bottleneck, with fewer exits than originally planned. Ghana Institute of Architects called the stadium a "death trap." After the hour-long ordeal, it was found that 116 deaths resulted from compressive asphyxia and 10 fans died from trauma.[2][6][4][5]

A fan, Abdul Mohammed, had passed out from the tear gas and was moved to a morgue, thought to be dead. He regained consciousness after someone stepped on his foot, narrowly missing being buried alive.[4]

Reports claim that medical staff had already left the stadium, as the incident happened near the end of the match. Some gates were locked, preventing escape.[1][2][7][8][9]


An official inquiry blamed police for over-reacting with reckless behaviour and indiscriminate firing of plastic bullets and tear gas. It also accused some officers of dishonesty and indefensible laxity. Six police officers were charged with 127 counts of manslaughter. The court ruled that the prosecution had failed to make a case and that the asphyxia may have been caused by the stampede and not the tear gas.[5][10]

The commission of inquiry recommended improvements to stadium security and first aid facilities, and that nationwide rapid response teams should be set up.[10]

Accra Sports Stadium was renovated in 2007 according to FIFA standards. Politics may have deferred the National Sports Council's attention to the stadium and 15 years later, it again is in disrepair.[5]


Following the event Ghana's president, John Agyekum Kufuor, called for three days of mourning. The Ghana Premier Football League suspended play for a month.[5] Since 2001 corporations and philanthropists including former Asante Kotoko chairman from 1999 to 2003, Herbert Mensah, have memorialized this tragedy with a fund, the Stadium Disaster Fund, and a series of events in Kumasi.

The events include paying respects to families of victims and their 148 children, their invitation to the Otumfuo's birthday at Manhyia Palace, prayers in the local Central Mosque, donations to the needy, the laying of a memorial wreath and a memorial march called the "May 9th Remembered Street Walk." In 2016 an annual memorial "May 9th Cup" football competition was created.[2][4][11][12][13] Mensah has appealed to the government to memorialize that May 9th, to no agreement.[14] In 2017 the memorial events were themed "Embrace the Day."[2]

A bronze statue was erected outside the stadium of a fan carrying another fan to safety with the inscription title "I Am My Brother's Keeper" in honor of the victims of that tragedy.[4][5]

Fans who attend matches at the stadium now chant "Never Again! Never Again!" to remind themselves of that day.[15]

Similar eventsEdit


  1. ^ a b "Prosecution closes case on stadium disaster". Ghanaweb. June 23, 2003. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Afanyi-Dadzie, Ebenezer (May 9, 2017). "May 9 victims remembered 16-yrs on; Herbert Mensah urges discipline". Ghana News. Archived from the original on May 9, 2017. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "Ghana mourns after football tragedy". BBC. May 10, 2001. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e "May 9 2001: When the beautiful game became ugly in Ghana -". May 9, 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Fifteen Years After Africa's Deadliest Stadium Disaster, Not Much Has Changed". Vice. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  6. ^ "Ghana mourns after football tragedy". BBC. May 10, 2001. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  7. ^ "Investigate the murder of the Ya Na -NDC". Ghanaweb. August 7, 2003. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  8. ^ "Death toll rises to 126 in Ghana soccer stampede". USA Today. Associated Press. June 19, 2001. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  9. ^ "125 killed in Ghana soccer crush". CNN. May 10, 2001. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Ghana tragedy: Police to blame". BBC. July 29, 2001. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  11. ^ Osei, S.K. "May 9 Disaster: Herbert Mensah fires politicians for neglect, 16 years on". Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  12. ^ "Herbert Mensah walks down May 9 memory lane for 16th time". May 7, 2017. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  13. ^ "Ghana marks 16th Anniversary of May 9 disaster". Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  14. ^ Afanyi-Dadzie, Ebenezer (June 3, 2017). "Herbert Mensah consoles June 3 victims". Ghana News. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  15. ^ "May 9th Stadium Disaster- 16 years on". social_image. Retrieved September 10, 2017.

External linksEdit