Vandalism: Actuality in Nigeria’s World Cup qualification?
The Black Stars of the Republic of Ghana, sealed the fate of the Green Eagles of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a 1-1 away playoff draw in Abuja (Nigeria) on Tuesday, over their World Cup qualification to Qatar.
Indeed, to the excruciating pain of the Nigerians, the Black Stars qualified to journey to Qatar in November to participate in the World Cup on the “away goals rule”.
The Green Eagles, who had appeared in six of the previous seven World Cups, had been expected by most of the over 60,000 spectators in the Abuja Stadium, to book a place again after the first leg of their playoff-tie ended 0 – 0 in Ghana on Friday, 18th March, 2022.
With their victory over the Green Eagles, the Black Stars are making a return to the World Cup after missing the 2018 edition in Russia, four years ago.
Reportedly, Nigerian fans stormed the pitch and vandalised the Moshood Abiola Stadium, as a fall out from their surprise to qualify for the World Cup after the final whistle of the match.
Really, the Nigerian fans at the stadium reacted to the result of the match with vandalism.
According to Wikipedia, vandalism is the action involving deliberate destruction or damage to public or private property.
As a crime, football vandalism can become more serious and distressing when committed extensively and violently or as expression of hatred and intimidation.
According to criminological research, vandalism serves many purposes for those who engage in it and stems from a variety of motives.
But in the Nigerian situation, it could be described as malicious vandalism, caused by violent outpouring of frustration and rage as a result of Nigeria’s inability to qualify for the World Cup.
In view of its incivility, punishment for vandalism can be particularly severe in some countries. But what do we see in Nigeria and Africa in general?
Reportedly, the Nigerian security was slow to react to the violence, which included the invasion of the football pitch when the final whistle was blown. And the Ghana players and supporters were left to battle their own way out of the terrible situation.
The police, reports said, beat the rioters with their batons, while it took tear gas on the pitch to disperse the unruly fans.
Even though sometimes, some high profile local and international football matches are replete with some degrees of vandalism, the Nigerian situation is seemingly becoming ” a World Cup norm”.
It is recalled that the Monday 12th February 1973 edition of the then Daily Graphic, had a banner headline: “Ghana Bus Set Ablaze …as Black Stars win in Lagos”.
The story said, “pandemonium broke out at the Lagos Stadium on Saturday (10th February, 1973) soon after the Black Stars had scored their third and winning goal in their World Cup elimination match against Nigeria.
“Stones and bottles were thrown onto the pitch in protest as the Black Stars jubilated.
“But the jubilation could not be sustained when the spectators surged onto the field.
“At this stage, the Lagos State Military Governor, Col. Mobolaji Jonathan, personally led a team of armed personnel to protect the Stars. The troops escorted the Stars off the pitch.
“A rough deal was , therefore, unleashed on the Ghanaian supporters who accompanied the team to Nigeria. It was during this onslaught that the supporters’ bus was set on fire. The wrecked van was still smouldering yesterday morning.
“The Nigerian troops had to use tear gas to disperse the angry crowd. The game was abandoned soon after the Ghanaians had scored the winning goal.”
The Ghana line-up for the game was ; Lante France, Enoch Asumadu, Ayi Acquah, Tetteh Gorleku, Dan Oppong, Sam Amarteifio, John Taylor/Peter Lamptey, Eric Amankwa, Kwasi Owusu , Isaac Eshun and Malik Jabir (Captain).
Readers, the question, therefore, is: For how long will Nigeria continue inflicting violence on Ghana during World Cup qualifying series ?
The question is asked in the context that; unpunished vandalism can provide relief which reinforces the behaviour to recur.
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By G. Frank Asmah