“Celebrating pitch invader is reprehensible”, sports pundit Paul Anyaba fumes

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Sports pundit with Skyy Power FM in Takoradi Paul Anyaba has condemned the street celebration and the kingly ride deliberately performed for the famous pitch invader who had been granted bail after three days incarceration at police custody. Awal Suleman, a 25-year-old Nursing student at the Nalerigu College of Nursing in the Northern Region became the first Ghanaian to invade the pitch in an international football match when he ran onto the playing arena, causing a momentary halt to proceedings during Ghana’s 2-0 win over South Africa on Thursday. In the ensuing melee, Awal was bundled up by the stadium security and whisked away to the University of Cape Coast police station, from where he was taken to court and charged with unlawful entry and misconduct.

His release from police custody today was celebrated on the streets of Cape Coast with video footages on social media depicting Awal Suleman seated on top of a Kia truck, sharing kingly waves amidst scores of Cape Coasters who had lined up within the popular Kotokuraba Market enclave, greeting with cheers and heroic welcome for the former central regional 400m champion.

But speaking on Skyy Talking Sports on Saturday morning, sports pundit Paul Anyaba observed that the posturing of the invader after his release was reprehensible and could have adverse legal consequences in the next court hearing. Paul Anyaba opined that the public demeanor Awal Suleman in the current circumstances would determine whether he is indeed remorseful of his misdemeanor or otherwise. “The post-bail conduct of Awal undermines the authority of the court and defeats the sincerity of his public and formal plea for remorse and pardon”, Paul Anyaba commented.

“Awal Suleman is clearly underestimating the severity of his offence, creating the impression that he has been acquitted and discharged, but fact is that he’s been released on bail by a court of law, hence his public conduct and comments could be used as evidence in the prosecution, that is why his decision to organize a mini float after his release was dangerous and unnecessary”, he fumed.

In some parts of Europe, pitch invasion is criminalized, and offenders are sent to jail for potentially posing a security threat to the players and other spectators. In some jurisdictions, persons involved are banned from the stadium entirely or for a duration, football clubs involved fined because of breach of security.

Paul Anyaba called for a stadium code of conduct that meets legal requirements to prosecute all forms misconduct to reduce the risk of spectator behaviour that may threaten safety and order. “We must act to discourage pitch invasion, it is a form of hooliganism, and it is a potential danger to the security of fans, spectators and property”, Paul Anyaba concluded.

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