Gunfire, snow and football

by Dexy Longshot

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Angola and Mali played out a thrilling 4-4 draw to open the Africa Cup of Nations and take some attention away from the unnerving events of Friday’s act of violence against the Togo national football team.

Many notable figures in the world of football have called for the tournament to proceed despite the brutal attack on the Togo team bus, which reportedly left four people dead.

Those who have lent their support to the cup organisers, such as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and PFA Chief Gordon Taylor, are right when they said that stopping the championships now will simply hand victory to the attackers and embolden them to attempt future assaults.

This brazen attempt to massacre the Togo players has also come at a time when so-called extreme weather conditions have created havoc with the football fixtures here in the United Kingdom.

Has it escaped anyone’s attention at the ease of which football fixtures in the UK have been called off?  How many have called for greater effort in clearing the snow that threatens a fixture pile-up?

There is no doubt that the attack in Angola was horrific and it is understandable that players might want to leave the country.  Although absolute safety cannot be guaranteed, the tournament organisers have given their assurances that security will be tightened and that every step possible would be taken to prevent a repeat of that atrocious incident.

Peoples’ lives are at stake in Angola, as they are here with the weather conditions.  However, they face the threat of being murdered in the African nation.  And yet, here we are in our comfortably developed country fearing a Mother Nature which we can predict and are realistically capable of dealing with.

Are the lives of the African footballers any less valuable than ours here in the UK?  Perhaps it is the increasingly litigious environment we live in that explains the lack of effort here.  If the footballers and spectators in Angola can risk their lives for the sake of entertainment and sporting spirit, then the very least the authorities here can do is to make a decent effort at clearing away the snow and icy conditions.

Pride is an important factor as well.  This competition represents a chance for Angola to show the world how it has developed after a long and bloody civil conflict ended in 2002.  Many African players are idolised in their homelands.  In turn, the players are proud of their profession and realise its importance to the people watching them.

There are several places in the world with much heavier snowfall, but life still goes on.  Just ask the Russians or Canadians for example.  The apparent lack of salt for the roads is also a very poor excuse.  The weather gets cold every year, so a sufficient stockpile of salt should be ready in case of unusual weather.

To quote Jim Holden’s article in the Sunday Express: “The duty to sport and to the modern world lies beyond any self-interest.”

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  • Dan

    what a game! that has top be the best comeback of all time? At 4-0 with 11 minutes to go the game was over. Amazing, best game I’ve seen in ages

  • William

    It’s a great article, but I didn’t write it! Who did?

  • dexylongshot

    The latest is the Togo FA decided they did want to partake in the ACNs after some thinking and re-applied. Unfortunately they have today been knocked back so no Togo V Ghana later on today.

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