By Bode Akinwumi
The Ondo State Government says the attack on its representatives in the AITEO (FA) Football Competition, Sunshine Stars FC of Ondo State in Ijebu Ode, last Saturday by supporters of Osun State representatives, Osun United FC , is an unwarranted aggression.
Addressing newsmen on the brutal attack unleashed on players and supporters of Sunshine Stars in Akure, the State Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, Hon. Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye and his counterpart in the Ministry of Information and Orientation, Mr Yemi Olowolabi narrated how the supporters of Osun United Football FC, stormed the venue of the home match to Sunshine Stars at the Dipo Dina Sports Stadium with over 30 buses owned by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Osun State and inflicted varying degrees of injuries on the players and supporters of the Ondo State darling team.
The vehicles according to the State Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, Hon. Yusuf-Ogunleye were fully loaded with intimidatingly looking persons, who later brutalised the Sunshine Stars FC players and supporters ostensibly for winning the game with a scoreline of 3-1which automatically edged Osun United FC out of the championship this season.
The Commissioner who gave the account of the events that unfolded in Ijebu Ode said Sunshine Stars lost the first leg of the match last Wednesday at the Osun State Sports Complex, Osogbo on a slim margin of 0-1 in favour of Osun United due to the frightening shouts and belligerent advances each time the Ondo State team made brilliant moves into the host team goal area.
He said though the first of the two legged encounter ended peacefully, it was a game soaked in tension as fear of troubles loomed for Sunshine Stars, should they have won against Osun United in Osogbo; adding Thatcherism the intimidating posture of the Osun United supporters only subsided when the game ended 1-0 against Sunshine Stars.
The commissioner for Youths and Sports Development said hardly had the centre referee signalled the end of the second leg which Sunshine Stars FC won on 3:2 on aggregate when the supporters of Osun United descended on the players and supporters of Sunshine Stars with sticks, bottles and cudgels that left several of them critically injured.
“At the beginning of the game which ended 3-1 in favor of Sunshine Stars, about 30 buses with Osun United Football Club supporters came in, but we were unawares of what were in the offing for them .
“It was a match between neighbouring states but it was at the end of the game we realized that they came as aggressors.
“They attacked several of our supporters and players which resulted in two supporters being critically injured because they wore Sunshine Stars jersey.
“As a peace loving state, we think it is necessary to inform the world that this should not have degenerated to such level whereas sporting activities like football should unite us,” he said.
Hon. Yusuf-Ogunleye however, assured that the attack would not in any way, affect the excellent performance and concentration of Sunshine Stars in subsequent matches.
“It is clear, our players and supporters were attacked and injured. The matter has been reported at the police station and the NFF officials and football agencies are aware.
“I don’t think the attack will affect our chances of progressing in the tournament. I can say precisely now that we are at the semi-final of the competition. Probably, our next match will be against Akwa United. This would not deter us, we are focused more than ever.
“Why they were at the venue of the match with about forty vehicles is only known to them, but for us in Ondo State, we will continue to be peaceful and law-abiding.
“We will continue to channel our grievances through the appropriate quarters and we will not take law into our hands”, he assured.
Narrating the roles of security agencies during the fracas, the Team Manager of Sunshine Stars, Gabriel Aborowa said the hoodlums overwhelmed the Police at the stadium but normalcy was restored when soldiers who responded to distressed calls came to the rescue of Sunshine Stars and their supporters.
Mr Aborowa said the army though made several arrests who were later identified as supporters of Osun United FC at the Police Station, confirmed that scores of Sunshine Stars supporters including the Media Officer of the Club, Chris Okunuwa and two supporters present at the briefing were left critically.
Presenting two of the injured persons, the State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Yemi Olowolabi who described the incident as an unfortunate development between both states assured that Ondo State will continue to preach peace maintain untainted relationships with all her neighbours and beyond.
Top government functionaries present at the press briefing include: Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, Pastor Gbenga Adelayi; Acting Chairman, Ondo State Football Agency, ODSFA, Mr. Tunde Ogunja; Admin Secretary of OSFA, Mr Oluwagbenga Akigbasote and the State Director of Sports, Mr Wande Fabuluje.