Security concerns at match centers

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On Friday, 3rd January, 2020. I was at the Accra Sports Stadium to witness a match between Legon Cities Fc and Kumasi Asante Kotoko. A game which is patently the most attended game so far in the Premier League this season. A game which was expected to attract massive attendance. This is due to the hype surrounding the game, the clubs involved, the Shatta Wale factor, the time and day of kickoff. Hence, a game of this sort needs strict and massive security. But I was caught out of the blue, the number of security personnel at the stadium was just like the number of people present in church for a Monday morning service.

After purchasing my ticket, I walked straight to the gate and joined the lengthy queue until it was my turn to cross the threshold. I handed my ticket to a man who directed me to a policeman standing just meters away. I walked straight to this policeman who was there for the purpose of “inspection or searching”. I raised my hands up so the policeman can have a meticulous search. He rubbed his hands over my shoulder, it was as if he was caressing his lover. He then told me “you can go”. I was left gobsmacked, the inspection/search was done. I begun to question myself: what if I had a weapon on me? Does that mean this man wouldn’t have seen it? Why this abysmal security for such a massive gathering? Why this low number of security personnel at such a gargantuan event?

Especially when there has been myriad of violence at different match venues in recent times, where exasperated football fans have gone berserk, thrown projectiles onto the pitch, invaded pitches and beaten up match and club officials as well as players during and after games. Then the story of Kyie Andoh came to mind, a referee who was beaten to death by fans after awarding a late minute penalty in a Division 2 League game between Najoe United and Gold Stars in 2014. On the day, not even a single security personnel was present at the venue. Then the story of Theresa Bremansu also came to mind, a female referee who was beaten to the pulp by prison officers for not adding “additional time” in a game between Prison Ladies and Ampem Darkoa Ladies in May, 2019. The Asante Kotoko vs Berekum Chelsea game last weekend also came to mind etc.

It is indeed time football gatherings should be seen as a security issue just like political gatherings, so that the police can do their statutory job of securing the place.

Going forward, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) really needs to collaborate with the Ghana Police Service to work out the security concerns that is infecting the local game. Security personnel on duty at match centers must do their statutory job effectually. They must conduct a proper search on every fan who walks into the stadium. Security personnel must be available at all match centers.

The stadium is indeed not a war field for policemen to perambulate with firearms to scare fans, but policemen should be given enough gadgets as it is evident that most football fans are not afraid of policemen at match venues because they are helpless. They don’t have the gadgets to handle the fans like we see in European football.

It is my hope that the issue of bad or poor security at match venues become a thing of the past soon.

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