Algerian football suspended after player killed by missile from stands

JS Kabylie's Cameroonian striker Albert Ebosse (C) died on August 23, after he was hit by a projectile thrown from the stands. Football in the country has come to a halt in mourning and protest. (Stringer, AFP)

JS Kabylie's Cameroonian striker Albert Ebosse (C) died on August 23, after he was hit by a projectile thrown from the stands. Football in the country has come to a halt in mourning and protest. (Stringer, AFP)

The death of Albert Ebosse, the Cameroon player killed by a missile thrown from the stands, has sparked widespread revulsion in Algeria where this weekend’s league programme will be cancelled in protest at the fatal attack.

The Algerian Football Federation (FAF) in a strongly-worded statement on Monday, decried the growing violence blighting the national game. It said it had called off this weekend’s league games “in protest at the irresponsible actions of certain fanatics and hooligans who resort to violence in the stadiums which has reached an unacceptable level”. 

The Cameroon forward was fatally hit following his side JS Kabylie’s 2-1 loss to USM Alger. Fans pelted the pitch with missiles as the players returned to their changing rooms at the Tizi Ouzou stadium. 

Last season’s top goalscorer was declared dead after he was rushed to a hospital at Tizi Ouzou, east of the capital Algiers, where the match took place. Ebosse (24) succumbed to “a violent head injury”, confirmed hospital director Abbas Ziri. 

The FAF said it was considering taking further action, including the expulsion of the club at fault “from all competitions”. Algerian daily El Watan suggested “this tragedy surprises nobody”. It explained: “For years now violence has crept into the stadiums and spills over sometimes onto the streets, bringing with it a climate of fear and insecurity in our cities.” 

Violence linked to Islamic extremism
The newspaper linked the rise in violence to Islamist extremists “who train Algerian youth in terror and horror”. Another daily, Liberte, suggested Saturday’s tragic incident “could have happened in any Algerian stadium” as “violence is general and systematic”. 

For psychiatrist Mahmoud Boudarène, Ebosse’s death under a deluge of missiles was “a collective murder” in a nation where violence “has become the norm”, fed “by misery, unemployment, lack of activities, corruption, and social injustice”. 

The El Khabar daily argued that Ebosse’s death meant “Algeria was not qualified to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations” in place of Libya. “How can we protect the thousands of guests at the Nations Cup if the Confederation of African Football gives Algeria the right to stage this competition?” the paper asked.

Call for football boycott
The Algerian league is holding an extraordinary meeting on Monday where management from both clubs and officials at Saturday’s match will be interviewed. Meanwhile Algerians have taken to social media to express their sense of guilt and shame, with some calling for the league to be stopped or boycotted. 

Ebosse will be remembered by a minute’s silence with players’ wearing black armbands in all matches this Sunday staged in his country of birth, the Cameroon players union announced. In a statement the union expressed “in the strongest terms its outrage and condemnation at this despicable act, tainted with a Machiavellian cruelty that took the life – on a football pitch – of one of its members”. 

It called for all Cameroonian players and especially those based in Algeria “to remain calm”. The FAF and league announced they were donating almost €100 000 euros to Ebosse’s family. The family will also receive the perished player’s salary until the end of his contract with Kabylie. 

Ebosse joined Kabylie in 2013, reaching the Algeria Cup final last season with his 17-goal haul helping the side finish second in the league.

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