Friday 22 November 2019

City tell Adebayor to take extended leave from club

Duncan White

It was grimly predictable. No sooner had the first reports of the shooting in Cabinda begun to filter through than South Africa's ability to host a safe World Cup was called into question. What a laughable leap of logic, what reactionary racist rubbish.

It seems almost insulting to have to make the distinction between what happened in Angola and the security situation in South Africa but with banal parallels being so blithely drawn, the organisers of the World Cup have had to defend themselves. This is ludicrous.

What happened in Cabinda was an act of terrorism on the part of secessionists seeking to raise the profile of their cause. In that they have been successful. In gaining sympathy for the cause of Cabindan independence they have not.

It seems there was a lack of communication between CAF, African football's governing body, and the Togolese federation about the team's movement. At least, that's what the political buck-passing indicates. The terrorists did not have any problems locating the Togolese convoy. CAF needs to prove that they did not underestimate the dangers Cabinda presented when scheduling games there and that they had appropriate security measures in place.

But, ultimately, it is impossible to prevent acts of terrorism taking place.

Since Munich in 1972, sport, with its huge global audience, has been the target of terrorist attacks. After the Sri Lanka cricket team were fired upon in Lahore last year, Arsene Wenger predicted that international sports events would increasingly become the target of terrorists. He has been proved right.

The infuriating flaw is when people equate an act of terrorism with a wider sense of African danger. There it is, the creeping stereotype about the "dark continent" and its propensity for violence. Shouldn't we take the World Cup back to safe old Europe?

Terrorist attacks occur everywhere. We had one on Friday morning when a bomb went off underneath the car of a police officer in Northern Ireland. Yet because this attack has happened in Africa, it gets translated into a general continental problem, rather than one relating to a specific exclave of a specific country.

Angola and South Africa are miles apart. Quite literally: the capital Luanda is 1,500miles away from Johannesburg, the distance between London and Moscow. Angola only emerged from a brutal 27-year civil war in 2002 and while it has enjoyed huge economic growth in the last eight years, it still bears the scars. It has the highest infant mortality rate in the world and the second highest death rate in the world. The median age is 18.

South Africa is vastly more developed and has a track record of hosting major international events, especially sporting events. As Danny Jordaan, the CEO of the 2010 World Cup, has pointed out, because there was a war in Kosovo does not mean the German World Cup was called into jeopardy.

South Africa has its problems, especially the high rate of violent crime. During the Confederations Cup last summer, you felt many people waiting hungrily for something serious to go wrong. Nothing did. The job of ensuring the World Cup passes with as few incidents as possible is a big one. Let's not burden South Africa with the responsibility for Cabindan terrorism too.

In the wake of Friday's attack, Manchester City have offered Emmanuel Adebayor, an extended period of compassionate leave. Adebayor, the Togo captain, led a players' meeting in Angola yesterday which resulted in the squad withdrawing from the competition.

Although City are due to face Blackburn in the Premier League tomorrow, senior club officials, including manager Roberto Mancini and chief football operations officer Brian Marwood, have made it clear to Adebayor's advisors that they have no intention of urging the player to return in time for the fixture.

Prior to Friday's terrorist attack, Adebayor had been expected back at Eastlands on Jan 20/21. But with City mindful of the horrific experience endured by the £25m forward, he has been told that there is no timescale on his return to club duty.

Portsmouth, who have four players -- Aruna Dindane, Nwanko Kanu, Nadir Belhadj and Hammas Yebda -- in Angola, have called for the competition to be scrapped immediately in light of the attack.

"The safety of all the players must be paramount and that's why I believe they should all come home as soon as possible," Peter Storrie, the club's chief executive, said. "It is common sense to scrap the tournament. We have four (players) out there and you naturally worry about their well-being in the light of such an awful attack."

Hull manager Phil Brown wants his Gabon striker Daniel Cousin and Nigerian defender Seyi Olofinjana to return "as quickly as possible", while Chelsea are keen for their contingent, which includes striker Didier Drogba, to be allowed to return if they wish. Arsenal, Everton, Fulham, Aston Villa, Burnley, Bolton and Wigan, who also have players in Angola, are monitoring the situation.


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