Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog

African Nation’s Cup rocked by terrorism

Emmanuel Adebayor held up by an act of terrorism

Football was put on the back burner two days before the start of the African Nations Cup after a bus carrying the Togo national team was attacked by terrorists, leaving three men dead.

Two players from the squad, which includes Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor and the previously unknown (to me) Aston Villa midfielder Moustpha Salifou, were also shot in the incident on Friday.

There seems to be a bit of confusion over why the attack was taken out and the only official response from Angola came from minister Antonio Bento Bembe, who said: “This was an act of terrorism that is being dealt with as we speak.” So we will assume that it was terrorism and not simply mercenaries (or Arsenal fans after their estanged Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor).

The terrorism on the bus created a whole host of questions;

  • Should the competition go forward?
  • Will this be repeated at the World Cup in South Africa this summer?
  • If Togo leave can Ireland take their place?

With regards to whether the competition should carry on, it is a nonsense to suggest it should be cancelled.

The point of terrorism is largely not to murder/injure the direct victims, it is to influence the decision makers into making changes that affect the wider society. The terror they want to cause isn’t in the action, it’s in the reaction.

Changing plans due to terrorism doesn’t stop it happening again: it means it has been successful.

If the African Nations Cup is cancelled millions of football fans from the continent will be deprived of a competitive, multi-national event that temporarily unites a regularly divided continent.

There is also the economic argument: if this band of mercenaries get the team cancelled, what happens to Angola? The country has spent millions that they can ill afford to waste, and will be expecting the boom created in tourism, television and services that a tournament like this will provide.

The 1968 Olympics were not cancelled when 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Although admittedly from a different era, there is a more pertinent variable that has meant idiots like Phil Brown are calling for this tournament to be cancelled.

It is in Africa.

I’m not saying for a moment that Phil Brown is an overt racist. However, there is still an element of the unknown about Africa. Opinions towards the unknown are often fearful, which mean people think that onyl bad things will happen.

Let's kick terrorism out of footballOf course, if there is decent intelligence that says further examples are likely to happen then the above becomes irrelevant because the players’ safety is the most important thing at the yournament. But I doubt for one minute that FIFA would allow the competition to continue if there was any semblance of worry for the players’ safety, so I assume there isn’t any such concern.

The Togolese (great word) players unanimously voted to continue in the competition, despite their Prime Minister ordering them to return. Midfielder Alaixys Romao said: “The team will not leave like cowards”, and he is quite right.

Hopefully the tournament goes ahead and the terrorists involved do not achieve their aim of disrupting what should be a focal point of sport in a continent that often has little to look forward to.

However, if any team does decide to drop out I think Ireland should be allowed to enter as their replacement. Just for the lolz.


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