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Sports

Business as usual

by Claudia Isabel Rittel
The start of the Africa Cup of Nations in early January was overshadowed by an attack on Togo’s football team. Claudia Isabel Rittel discussed the incident with former Portuguese football professional Alberto Gomes da Fonseca Junior. The 52 year old athlete was born in Guinea-Bissau and lives in Cape Verde today.

What does this incident mean for African Football?
We are very sad about the recent event. It was a terrorist act that is by no means justifiable. Terrorism exists everywhere, not just in Africa. Acts of terrorism occur anywhere in the world nearly every day. And this is what happened in Angola. The attackers wanted the world’s attention, but basically this is a dispute between the Cabinda Province and the Angolan government. It is like to the problems in the Basque Region and Corsica.

The assistant trainer and the team’s spokesperson were killed. Nine persons on the bus were wounded, including two players. A separatist group, the Front for the Liberation of Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), claimed responsibility. What must be done?
There is no simple solution to the problem, but Angola has one of Southern Africa’s best armies. The government should take a stronger stance against the Guerilla in Cabinda. Many FLEC supporters have already left the group. And the international community should exert itself, so that the people behind this attack are brought to justice. FLEC leaders live in Europe, French authorities are investigating, and the culprits should not go unpunished.

The organisers of the Africa Cup of Nations hardly took note of the incident and the tournament went ahead as planned. Was this the right way to react?
The incident makes me very sad. The relatives of the victims have my deepest sympathy and that of all Africans. The decision of the Togolese team to withdraw is understandable, but one should not dramatise the event. The focus should remain on the sport. Everybody is celebra­ting, and that is how it should be. If you change the programme because of the attack, you give the terrorists what they want: attention. That is why the organisers’ decision was correct. (cir)