The Management of Accra Hearts of Oak have released a press statement addressing concerns about the unruly behaviour of their fans when they hosted King Faisal on Sunday, November 2 at the Accra Sports Stadium.
The statement signed by the club's Public Relations Officer, Muheeb Saeed, decried the behaviour of "the errant few" while commending the masses who turned up to watch the game.
The statement also points fingers at the security lapse that allowed the fans entry into the inner perimeter and also called into question the performance of Referee Otis Oppong in the said match.
Below is the full text of the release.
The Management of Accra Hearts of Oak, having reviewed the 10th Premier League match against King Faisal at the Accra Sports stadium, wishes to make the following remarks: We regret the conduct of a section of our fans who invaded the pitch a while after the final whistle to remonstrate with our team for perceived below-par performance. While the overall performance of the Hearts team and that of the centre referee indeed gave cause for some concern, we believe the pitch invasion was a rather anachronistic way of expressing their displeasure, and we do condemn it in no uncertain terms.
We also wish to express our dismay at the apparent serious security lapse that allowed the fans onto the pitch. Given the palpable wave of anger and agitation among our fans against perceived biased officiating by the match officials, we believe the security services should have been more alert and alive to their duties on the day in question.
We would have wished to have been commending our fans for the impressive attendance at the said match despite the previous reverse against Ashgold coupled with hikes in gate fees: Unfortunately, we are forced to condemn the errant few rather than commend all of them for their loyalty. All the same, we commend the larger body of our fans who turned up at the Accra Sports Stadium last Sunday and who maintained discipline.
Having made the foregoing declarations, we wish to raise a few concerns about certain aspects of the performance of Referee Otis Oppong in the said match. The centre referee inexplicably allowed the persistent, farcical time-wasting tactics of our opponents. We counted 12 incidents of King Faisal players feigning injury and slumping onto the pitch to hold up play for a minimum of one minute on each occasion. Around the 65th minute, with our team about to effect a corner kick, the King Faisal goal keeper carried the time-wasting gimmick to ridiculous limits when he fell and got up in succession like a person seized by epilepsy; and worse still, he got the benefit of the referee pausing play and ordering a retake when our player was in a good position to pull the trigger to score. His decision to play only five minutes injury time after all these happenings was unfathomable.
Around the 76th minute, Gabriel Darko’s shot struck the arm of a Faisal defender in the vital area. Here again, the referee waved away our penalty appeal. These incidents created a perception of bias.
Nonetheless, we are not seeking any vengeance or endorsing the behavior of our fans. On the contrary, we believe that human as they are, referees cannot get it right all time, and we always have to allow them a certain reasonable margin of error. We therefore deplore the reaction of the fringe elements among our fans and express our deep regrets for their unsporting conduct.
In raising these concerns therefore, we are only seeking to stimulate all concerned to reflect on how we discharge our respective responsibilities and pick useful lessons from the lapses recorded at the said match so that we can all make amends in future.
We wish to reiterate our commitment to the continued education of soccer fans in the country in order to sanitize our game. As a club with a key stake in Ghana football, we believe that collaboration, rather than confrontation among all stakeholders is the way to go.
Public Relations Officer