Friday, January 8, 2010

Terrorism Hits Football
as Togo Bus in Machine Gun Attack

Terrible news ahead of the African Cup of Nations. A bus driver was murdered and two players from the Togo national team were shot and injured during a machine-gun attack against their bus today.

An ESPN report says Angolan rebels are responsible for the attack, which happened on the Congo border. The tournament begins Jan. 10 in Angola.

The two players injured are reported to be GSI Pontivy goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilalé and Vaslui FC defender Serge Akakpo. Seven from the Togo party were injured and the Angolese bus driver killed. FC Nantes striker Thomas Dossevi told Radio Monte Carlo:

"We were attacked like dogs and had to hide for 20 minutes under the seats to avoid the bullets. We were shot, although we had two police coaches on our sides."

Six months shy of the World Cup, this will surely add to the trepidation and regret in some circles about putting the World Cup in Africa. Not only have political and infrastructure problems cast a shadow on the tournament, the threat of violence in South Africa was always a brooding issue. The attack on the Togo bus, whether random or targeted, isn't going to reassure anyone headed to Africa for the tournament.

It's terrorism, plain and simple. The rebels almost surely targeted the bus for political or social reasons, or just to get some attention to whatever their cause is. How sad that a highly anticipated tournament, one marked in the past by skillful, intelligent football that has evolved into a showcase for African players and nations, now will be known for this kind of terrorism.

Where is the security for these players? How can any club want to sanction sending players they've invested millions in to the tournament if their safety cannot be guaranteed. Who wants to be a pawn in a political struggle, or worse, a war. This is an ugly situation and a threat to the personal safety of high-profile footballers. FIFA has to intervene and demand from its member nations a highly evolved baseline of security for all its players and associates. They are becoming viable targets for terrorists such as these rebels.

It's a sad day, and hopefully, this is the end of it. Hopefully.

Subscribe to Starting Eleven

No comments: