The Accra Sports 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.
What was supposed to be a football game between Ghana’s two most glamorous and successful clubs turned into something else after Accra Hearts of Oak scored two goals to overturn Kotoko’s lead.
The resulting disturbances caused the Police to fire tear gas into the crowd in an attempt to dispel the danger. 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.
An official inquiry blamed police for over-reacting with reckless behavior 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.
The commission of inquiry recommended improvements to stadium security and first aid facilities, and that nationwide rapid response teams should be set up. Accra Sports Stadium was renovated in 2007 according to FIFA standards.