Mysterious! How referee for Hearts-Kotoko May 9 clash changed, by phone call

Ishmael Addo (L) scored Hearts’ goals in the 2-1 win on that day[/caption] A former Ghana Premier League referee has revealed how he was asked by a strange caller to return to his base in Tarkwa in the Western Region while on his way to officiate the Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko midweek clash on May 9, 2001. He said he was surprised by the crank caller’s directive as he was already on his way to officiate the game in Accra. Thomas Richard Kofi Atiffu said he was shocked that almost all his colleagues prevailed on him not to go for the game as a result of the call. In an exclusive interview with Onua FM’s Frank Osei Owusu (Winter) on Friday, the current referees’ instructor said he had to return to his base after travelling all the way to Cape Coast. The game was eventually officiated by Jacob Wilson Sey, who disclosed on the 17th anniversary of the May 9 Stadium Disaster that he won a ballot to officiate that game. Referee Atiffu said shockingly no one owned up when he tried finding out who might have called him to instruct him to return. That match, which ended 2-1 in favour of home team Hearts of Oak, ended in a record number of deaths due to a stampede at the then Ade Coker end of the Accra Sports Stadium. One hundred and twenty-six football fans, most of whom were with Hearts, lost their lives.

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‘Confused and useless’ Stoic about what happened that fateful day, referee Atiffu, who retired in 2005, said his saddest moments in the profession was at the Obuasi Len Clay and Kumasi sports stadia. According to him, the sad moments involved one particular club, which he stopped short of mentioning. At Obuasi, he claims he felt a spell had been cast on him by one of the teams. “I was totally confused and useless.” He revealed that since then he never put a ball at the center before the start of a game. By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh||Ghana ]]>