The Raking Member on Youth and Sports Committee Mr. Wisdom Kobena Mensah Woyome has proposed a Private Member’s Bill to address Football Offences and Disorder, Safety of Sports Grounds, Sporting Events in Ghana.
The South Tongu Constituency Member of Parliament said this on the floor of Parliament while delivering a statement on the recent Spate of Hooliganism that took place in some football matches during the Ghana Premier League and others in Ghana.
Mr. Woyome conceded that, hooliganism may not be completely eradicated in any immediate time, nonetheless, we can do something to reduce such occurrences. He therefore suggested that, there should be a Private Member’s Bill to address the issue in order to keep hooligans far from the game everyone loves to watch and away from corrupting the game that has tirelessly united us and enabled us pursue national development.
In the statement he said, “Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this statement on the “Spate of Hooliganism in Football in the country”.
“Mr. Speaker, it is disheartening to wake up in the morning to hear that a sporting official or football lover has sustained injuries because of doing what he loves at the stadium. It is about time this issue is addressed once and for all, given the fact that we all agree on the role of football in uniting us and promoting productivity for national development.”
“Mr. Speaker, permit me to quote Terry Pratchett an English author “The important thing about football, is that it’s not just about football. It transcends our differences in where we come from and what defines us”.
“Mr. Speaker, football, like any other sport provides many benefits. Economic benefits for nations and individuals, it has fostered unity among nations and dealt a lethal blow to the things that divide us, along racial, gender and in particular ethnic lines. That which once was an all-men game now has active female enthusiasts. However, the game we all cherish has not been without challenges and the most serious one which threatens the beauty of the game is what we call football hooliganism.”
“Football hooliganism, Mr. Speaker, refers to what is widely considered unruly or obstructive behaviour by overzealous supporters of the game. Actions such as vandalism, brawling and intimidation are enacted by association football club fans participating in football. It occurs at different levels and sometimes involve football players who are to show sportsmanship.”
“It is interesting to note that in some instances, Mr. Speaker, hooliganism occur even outside sports stadia. This could be that even off the pitch, the lives of others as well as their properties can be in danger. It is this reason most especially Mr. Speaker that makes hooliganism a delicate issue which requires every amount of effort that can be built to fight it.”
“Mr. Speaker, football hooliganism has a long history. It dates as far back as the 1880s where instances of football hooliganism were recorded in England. It was a period where gangs of supporters would intimidate neighbourhoods, in addition to attacking referees, opposing supporters and players. However, in the era of globalisation, Mr. Speaker, I expect if not completely eliminated it should not be at the rate that we are witnessing.”
“Mr. Speaker, it is in the face of the seriousness of this matter that at the international level, issues relating to hooliganism are regarded a threat to life and tackled with all seriousness. The police and other security agencies have been introduced to the game of football to control crowds by ensuring that their presence in stadia are felt by fans.”
“It is important however, to note that in dispatching the police to ensure safety in various stadia internationally, the noble intent surrounding such dispatches has not been enough in preventing riotous tendencies from emerging. This means Ghana needs to consider the best methods that have a good psychological plea and is well advanced, in our approach to dealing with hooliganism, while effectively forestalling counter-productive and unintended consequences.”
“Football Hooliganism is a global problem although some countries like the United Kingdom have drastically reduced their occurrence because of measures put in place. One of the serious outcome of hooliganism, Mr. Speaker, was in 2012 where the fans of the two major clubs in Egypt, Al-Masry and Al-Ahly clashed after a league match which resulted in an estimated number of 79 fans killed.”
“Mr. Speaker, Ghana is no exception when it comes to hooliganism. Football violence has been with us since the sport was professionalized in the late 19th century. The phenomenon has continued and the worst instance has been the stadium disaster, which occurred on 9th May, 2001 at the Accra sports stadium when Accra Hearts of Oak hosted Kumasi Asante Kotoko in a premier league game. This single incident Mr. Speaker, on this gruesome day led to the death of 127 people which remains the worst stadium disaster in African history, hereinafter dubbed the “Black Wednesday”.
“Mr. Speaker, traces of hooliganism after the “Black Wednesday” can repeatedly go on not forgetting the incidence of a female referee reportedly being beaten by fans in a women’s special competition in Sunyani who were aggrieved at the lack of added time like they expected; the match between Asante Kotoko and Brekum Chelsea also recorded violence on 28th April, 2019; with the very recent violence between Brong Ahafo United FC and Real Tamale United FC at Sunyani Coronation Park during the division One League on 4th July, 2021.”
According to research, Mr. Speaker, most occurrences of hooliganism have been influenced by: alcohol, peer pressure, player behaviour, unexpected results, referees’ judgement, gambling and many others.
The effects and damage brought upon us by hooliganism are often irreparable. These effects, include loss of lives, damage to properties, injuries that renders victims disabled, loss of interest in the game which drastically reduces revenue derived from sporting events etc.
“Mr. Speaker, some countries like the United Kingdom have put measures such as stiff prison sentences to clamp down hooligans which is helping to fight or reduce the occurrences of the menace. In Ghana, the Ghana Football Association (GFA), has pursued some anti-hooligan measures including banning items that could be used as weapons or missiles at the stadia, banning opposing fans from matches and/or ordering specific matches to be played behind closed doors, increasing prices of alcohol at the stadia. As a matter of fact, some clubs have been banned from home games and some officials suspended. Mr. Speaker, these have done very little in preventing the menace from growing. It is important that we adopt tougher punishments such as banning perpetrators for life and where necessary, long term imprisonments and hefty fines to serve as a deterrent to others.”
“Mr. Speaker, I concede that hooliganism may not be completely eradicated in any immediate time, nonetheless, we can do something to reduce such occurrences. I therefore suggest that, there should be a private member’s bill to address Football Offences and Disorder, Safety of Sports Grounds, Sporting Events – Control of Alcohol etc to keep hooligans far from the game we all love to watch and away from corrupting the game that has tirelessly united us and enabled us pursue national development. I want to end by calling on all MPs, the media, Civil Societies, the police and all football lovers to come together to fight against hooliganism to uphold the values enshrined in the game. Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.”