Are the CAF guilty of a huge injustice?
Togo have been banned from the next two Africa Cup of Nations following their withdrawal from this year’s tournament.
The Confederation of African football (Caf) also fined the Hawks $50,000 for quitting the competition in the wake of a gun attack on the team bus in Angola.
Two members of their delegation and a coach driver were killed in the ambush, which occurred two days before the start of the tournament.
World football governing body Fifa declined to comment on the ban.
However, a statement from CAF read: “The executive committee has banned Togo from the next two African Nations Cup and fined the Togo FA 50,000 U.S. dollars.”
A Togolese assistant coach and a press officer died along with the driver following the ambush on their bus in the northern Angolan province of Cabinda on 8 January, prompting the government to recall the team for three days of mourning.
The Hawks initially wanted to compete in Group B with Ivory Coast, Ghana and Burkina Faso, but quit on 10 January – the tournament’s start date – on 10 January on their national government’s orders.
But African football’s governing body says the decision to pull the team out amounted to governmental interference in the sport.
“The players publicly expressed their willingness to return to the Nations Cup to compete. But the Togo government decided to call back their national team,” Caf explained in its statement.
“The decision by political authorities contravenes Caf and African Nations Cup regulations.” (BBC Sport)
Yes you read that correctly. After their team was attacked by an Angolan rebel group in a deadly ambush that left three people dead the African Nation of Togo took the rather unavoidable decision to pull out of the African Nations Cup. The decision would not have been taken lightly but how the hell would the country’s players be able to continue to play their matches given the events of that bloody day.
The decision by the CAF to ban the country from the next two African Nations Cup tournaments is simply unbelievable and beggars belief. Given that they were unable to adequately protect the team from such a vicious attack it just astounds me that they would then turn around and take such a decision, a decision that will surely be successfully appealed.
Can you imagine just how traumatised all those present on the team bus would have been following such an incident. Watching as team mates are shot and others within metres are killed are they then really going to be in the correct mental state to just continue regardless and partake in what would then seem like a meaningless game of football just a matter of a couple of days later?