Togo banned from next Nations Cups after ambush

Togo, who pulled out of the Africa Cup of Nations after a terrorist attack on their team bus, have been banned for the next two competitions in 2012 and 2014, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said Saturday.

CAF president Issa Hayatou said the decision was based on “governmental interference”, which led to Togo’s pull out of this year’s edition.

Togo quit the 2010 Nations Cup after two members of their delegation were shot and killed during the ambush on the team convoy as it arrived in the restive Angolan enclave of Cabinda.

The armed wing of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Flec), embroiled in a decades-long separatist struggle, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Togo, captained by Manchester City star Emmanuel Adebayor, initially wanted to compete in Group B with Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Burkina Faso, but quit on their national government’s orders.

They left Cabinda to return home on the evening of the start of the competition on January 10.

“I told the players that we understood their position,” Hayatou explained.

“We asked them to remain, but that if they decided to leave we would take action. And the players told us they would remain. Up to that point we were in agreement.

“But when there was political interference we couldn’t accept that.”

He said the Togo case was identical to one involving Nigeria who were withdrawn from the 1996 edition on their national government’s orders.


“That was political interference and we banned the Nigeria team for the next two editions under article 78 of our rules.”

The article Hayatou was referring to states that any team pulling out of the competition up to 20 days before it begins or during it would be suspended for the following two Africa Cup of Nations.

Hayatou continued: “There are no exceptional circumstances where political interference to withdraw a team is concerned. If the Togo players had decided to quit due to their emotion and suffering then we would have been understanding.”

CAF’s decision to punish Togo appears to be at odds with their position on the matter four days after the attack when Togo coach Hubert Velud revealed: “Hayatou came to us to offer his condolences.

“He didn’t put us under any pressure. He also confirmed to us, but I’m wary about it all the same, that Togo would not be suspended for the following Africa Cup of Nations.”

And CAF general secretary Moustapha Fahmi for his part announced at the time: “Given that the president of CAF has accorded every flexibility to Togo there will be no punishment in the event that they pull out.”

The attack occurred as the Togo convoy drove into Cabinda from Congo-Brazzaville on the Friday, leaving players cowering under their seats during a 20-minute gunbattle with security forces.

Communications chief Stanislas Ocloo and assistant coach Abalo Amnalete were killed and goalkeeper, Kodjovi Obilale, was among the injured.

Obilale was airlifted to a hospital in Johannesburg where he is receiving treatment after gun shots to the back and abdomen.

“They fired on us like dogs,” reported Togo squad member Thomas Dossevi at the time.

Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos’s government and African football officials had pleaded to the last second for Togolese authorities to allow the players to fulfill their wish to compete in the tournament to honour their slain colleagues.

“It’s very sad. It’s hard for Africa and for us. These things are part of life, you have to accept it,” said Adebayor before flying to Lome.

Togo Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo explained the reasoning behind the order to pull-out of Angola.

“We understand the position of the players who want to in some way avenge their dead colleagues, but it would be irresponsible for the Togolese authorities to allow them to continue,” Houngbo said.

Organisers rejected calls for the 2010 tournament to be scrapped with security beefed up in Cabinda and the three other venues in Luanda, Benguela and Lubango.

Despite fears of more attacks the competition, which reaches its climax with Sunday’s final between champions Egypt and Ghana, has passed off peacefully. – AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Colin Droniou
Journaliste AFP spécialisé en football Colin Droniou has over 343 followers on Twitter.
Advertising

Coalition politics and law: The fight over Tshwane

With coalition politics on the rise, particularly in local government, this kind of court case is likely to become more common

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread
Advertising

Press Releases

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday