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Friday, February 5, 2010

What is Issa Hayatou smoking?

Issa Hayatou is an idiot.

Okay, I apologise for using such strong language to describe any person. How about this? Hayatou has no commonsense. He is the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the body that has handed down a four-year suspension to Togo FA, the Togo national team, for missing the African Cup of Nations that just concluded in Angola.

According to the information released by CAF’s chief press officer Suleiman Habuba, Togo FA violated article 78 of CAF’s regulations. The said article states: “A forfeit notified less than 20 days before the start or during the final competition shall entail in addition of the forfeit of the entry fee, a maximum fine stipulated by the regulations as well as the suspension of the concerned national association for the following two editions of the African Cup of Nations.” Translation: If at the last minute a team decides to break tent and head back home before the game has even begun, then it will get a hefty fine and also be booted out of the next two African Cup of Nations’ tournaments.

Now, I am sure the good people who wrote that article in the regulation did not imagine that a team would have the fate that Togo went through. Just in case you did not hear why the Togolese team pulled out of the games, here is the story.

On Friday, January 8, 2010, the national team of Togo left a training camp in Congo-Brazzaville for Angola in a bus convoy. But no sooner had they entered the Cabinda area than they were attacked by terrorists, for that is who they are, calling themselves the armed wing of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC).

Gunmen wielding AK-47s spayed the buses with bullets. When the smoke cleared, the Angolan driver of the lead bus was dead on the spot, and as many as eight members of the Togo team wounded. Togo assistant coach Abalo Amalete and press officer Stanislaud Ocloo died a short time later from injuries sustained in the attack. Backup goalkeeper Kodjovi “Dodji” Obilale and central defender Serge Akakpo were among those seriously injured. News reports said 22-year old Akakpo took two bullets and lost a lot of blood. The shattered team courageously limped to Cabinda.

From the start, there were attempts to blame the Togo team. Why were they travelling by bus instead of flying in? Why did they not outrun the ambush? Why did they not inform the Angolan authorities of their travelling plan?

To answer the last question, someone should ask this question: Why, if the Angolan authorities were not aware that the Togo team was travelling by road, were the Angolan forces able to intervene and trade fire with the ambushers? It was therefore a stupid attempt to suggest that the Togo team was at fault because they did not inform Angola of their travelling plans. They did, but Angola dropped the ball by failing to provide adequate protection for the Togo team. In any event, devastated by the deaths of its citizens in a foreign country, the Togo government ordered the team to return for official mourning. And why, pray tell, did the good folks in Angola schedule games in an area they knew hosts terrorist, whom they have been fighting for the last 30 years?

You cannot blame the Togolese for feeling unhappy about the situation. This was a totally preventable incident, but CAF, the organiser of the football match and the Angolan government acted negligently.

Yet, instead of sympathising with Togo, the Confederation of African Football had the nerve to hand down a $50,000 fine to Togo, and ban it from playing the African Cup of Nations in 2012 and 2014.

What kind of weed are the committees who decided these stinking penalties smoking? Is this rational, does it make sense to anybody? Am I the only one who thinks the whole thing smells like the rotten head of obange fish?

Issa Hayatou is an idiot—I am sorry, I just had to say that one more time to get it out of my system—and if he has any sense and decency left in him, he will reverse the decision levied against the Togo National Team. Togo FA has suffered enough, and need not suffer again.

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