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Caf decision over Togo makes no sense

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Piers Edwards | 18:10 UK time, Saturday, 30 January 2010

Not since Buckingham Palace took so long to respond Princess Diana's death in 1997 has an organisation so badly misjudged the mood of the public.

For the decision by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to expel Togo from the next two Africa Cup of Nations - following their Angola 2010 withdrawal after their team bus was machine-gunned (with two team officials dying) - is simply jaw-dropping.

Before we get into the whys and wherefores, let's just clarify why the Togolese have been suspended. In the statement they released on Saturday, Caf said the following...

'Following a decision taken by players to participate in the competition, the Togolese government decided to call back their national team. The decision taken by the political authorities is infringing Caf and [Nations Cup] regulations. Therefore, a decision has been taken to suspend Togo for the next two editions.'

For their woes, the Togolese federation was also fined US$50,000 - as Caf twisted the knife.

In the same statement, Caf says it understands the players' decision not to participate in the competition but the African ruling body's insensitivity is still staggering.

Togo players
Togo played a friendly against Togo Media, 15 January, to honour those who were killed

Some will argue Nations Cup regulations - Article 78 specifies such a punishment for teams withdrawing shortly before the competition - were simply being obeyed but just down the page, Article 80 will tolerate withdrawals 'in cases of force majeure accepted by Caf'.

Force majeure allows for an extraordinary event or circumstance, which the incident in the northern Angolan province of Cabinda on 8 January certainly was - with the Togo bus being attacked by rebels linked to the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda.

When considering that two team officials lost their life, the African ruling body really does seem to believe Bill Shankly's well-worn opinions on football being more important than life and, more pertinently here, death.

When I asked Caf President Issa Hayatou earlier this month whether he regretted bringing the Nations Cup to Angola following the Togolese tragedy, his answer was enlightening.

For the Cameroonian proceeded to explain that there was no real problem having only three teams in Group B after Togo's withdrawal as it had happened before (when Nigeria withdrew from South Africa in 1996).

At that point, an aide came over to explain that the question had actually been about the deaths - whereupon Hayatou addressed the attack with little empathy.

On Friday, he expanded further - saying Caf had denied Togo's request to re-join the tournament after three days of mourning because satellites used for broadcasting had already been pre-arranged, one of a litany of excuses which didn't seem to hold water.

And while words such as 'cruel' and 'inhumane' are already being applied by football fans to the decision - 'stupid' has also followed.

Because whether you agree or disagree with the decision, its timing beggars belief.

Caf argues that the African game doesn't get the coverage it deserves - but how is Sunday's Nations Cup final between Egypt and Ghana going to be about football when announcing this decision 24 hours beforehand?

Even while this tournament has progressed and become about the football, there was always the feeling that the Cabinda attack, which took place 48 hours before the opening game, would overshadow it.

Now it certainly will, as Caf reignited a fading ember at the worst moment.

Caf says it wants to give Togo time to appeal with the draw for 2012 Nations Cup qualifying looming - but they are still ensuring the final, like the opener, is coming second.

Inside talk suggests this is a political spat between the Togolese government, its football federation and Caf, who had a war of words with Prime Minister Gilbert Huongbo when the team withdrew.

And if this is indeed the case, this issue should not be used as a political pawn.

Especially in African football's biggest ever year as the planet's eyes turn to South Africa ahead of the continent's first staging of the World Cup, now just over four months away.

Amidst the fall-out, there will be chat about whether Hayatou, who has held his post for 22 years, is still fit to govern Caf - a question his army of critics will seize upon.

In an interview given to the BBC, Caf claims to be protecting the future of African football by adhering to tournament rules.

But how are they helping the next generation of Togolese players by giving them no continental championship to play for - and at least two years without competition until the 2014 World Cup qualifying comes around?

Personally, I'd be intrigued to know the thoughts of reserve goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale who, lying in a Johannesburg hospital with a bullet lodged near his spine, is now being told that even if he does play football again, he'll be unable to compete in the next two Nations Cups.

Total madness - and I'm sure many of you will join me in hoping Togo's appeal will succeed.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    This is truly a shocking decision from CAF, and I believe no one thought that it would come to this. I still can not believe but CAF will make the punishment lesser, hopefully none.

    But now the Copa America is held next year in Argentina, which usually has two invited nations (Japan and Mexico probably). I think CONMEBOL must be smart enough to offer Togo to participate in the Copa America, it would be a great move for CONMEBOL and humiliating for CAF.

    If the ban will stay as it is I believe some African countries will boycott the next two African Cup of Nations in protest until CAF will lift the ban on Togo. That decision is just completely inhuman.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's time Uefa used it's political strength for good. A threat to withdraw all its teams from South Africa will soon change the Caf minds.

  • Comment number 3.

    Clearly CAF are not going to back down now, they would lose too much face. FIFA need to show some backbone on this issue and overrule them.

  • Comment number 4.

    The ban is as inhuman as the original assassinations. Shame on you CAF.

  • Comment number 5.

    This is the most insane decision ever! It' makes Blatters many crazy ideas over the years look well thought through and the height of inteligence!

    The fact is that CAF held a tournement in a war-torn country, and then when the consequences of that decision happened they blamed Togo to deflect from the many questions they need to answer, first of all why they didn't tell Togo that they were being based in a warzone!

    Hopefully other African nations will rally round Togo and threaten to organise a "friendly" tournement of some sort instead at the same time, it would be nice if all foreign broadcasters refused to broadcast tournements without Togo and if foreign based players refused to participate until they are re-instated. In a perfect world Blatter would come out an denounce the decision and tell them to over-turn it or CAF will no longer be recognised as a governing body. However Blatter has been silent (as usual) on the big issues, which is a surprise as he loves running his mouth about the small ones.

    The world-wide game is in a terrible state, with money, politics and a lack of sportsmanship decimating the game, this decision however really caps the lot and shows why Football generally is fast becoming a laughing stock.

  • Comment number 6.

    Shankly's had his tongue firmly in his cheek. CAF have a block of ice for a heart.

    This is a shocking decision. I hope Togo can get this overturned.

  • Comment number 7.

    Didn't believe this ruling when I read it earlier and still cannot believe it. The insensitivity of some officials and / or bodies beggars belief. This smacks of dictatorship from a jumped up official who sorely needs to be removed from office.

    I hope the other African Nations threaten a boycot of these tournaments and force a retraction of the decision, an apology and a resignation.

    Will Sepp go public on this and shame CAF into changing the decision?

    Shame we have a blog on this decision and not what should be good final tomorrow!

  • Comment number 8.

    The Princess Diana situation was hyped by the media to create a hysterical tabloid-buying public.

    But the Togo decision is hideous.

  • Comment number 9.

    The decision to ban Togo is incomprehensible and insensitive to say the least. How can CAF justify its decision in the light of what had happened to Togo. One thing's for sure - if such a thing happened (God forbid !) to any of the participating countries in South Africa and it resulted in a withdrawal can you imagine the outcry - and to think that clubs in the Premier league couldn't give a monkeys about the CAF........now we know why.

    Togo deserves our sympathy and support, not frozen out in such a brazen manner.

  • Comment number 10.

    It defies belief that the governing body could politicise such a shocking and tragic incident. Pathetic springs to mind. What a shameful mark on African football. Here's hoping Togo's appeal is succesful. Its disgusting that they should have to appeal in the first place.

  • Comment number 11.

    This is the most stupid reaction by a governing group since the last time Blatter decided anything.
    When death comes to a competition the authoraties must make allowances for the grief that those close to the incident feel. Togo was in full mourning for three days and there is no way the team were in the right frame of mind to continue with the games before them.
    All of the other world associations must show their support for Togo and get this pig headed decision overturned.

  • Comment number 12.

    This is the most dispicable thing in Sport since the 1936 Berlin Olympics.CAF should we warned by the rest of the World that if they do not lift this ban, South Africa will lose the World Cup. I know that Blatter could not care less about what happened to the Togo side, and agrees with the CAF decision, but UEFA and the other football playing nations should tell FIFA and CAF that they wont get away with this. I always wondered how the World and particulary Africa let the tragedy of Rwanda to happen.Now I know.

  • Comment number 13.

    This is an incredible decision which beggars belief. I've just sent an e-mail via the CAF website detailing my pure disgust and hope many others let them know exactly what the world thinks of this decision. It may well fall on deaf ears but hopefully common sense will prevail. I doubt it, they are a football authority after all.

  • Comment number 14.

    When the members of CAF sat round and decided this did nobody around the table think that this would outrage anyone who has any interest in football the world over. FIFA must make a stand against this, if they do nothing then they are agreeing that it is an appropriate response.
    Unbelievable

  • Comment number 15.

    CAF's decision is a joke, as you have noted, the timing is horrible and the decision is just disgusting considering 2 people were killed.

    The silence on the issue on FIFA's website is equally abhorring. FIFA as an organization cannot read the minds of the people who follow the game. They messed up with the Henry hand-ball in a PR sense and again have here. To top that off they change their mind every 2 minutes on how World Cup's are run, Sepp Blatter and the other gooses in charge of football need to wake up and better yet be voted out.

  • Comment number 16.

    I suggest the BBC boycotts its coverage of the next 2 cup of nations. Terrible.

  • Comment number 17.

    Disgraceful.... I cannot believe this decision. And we are meant to think this is one of the world's most powerful footballing organizations? What a complete mess....

  • Comment number 18.

    If innocent people hadn't been wounded and killed this punishment would have been offensive enough - idiotic, insensitive and moronic.

    Given the loss of life and injury, it beggars belief. The article rightly spells out that it will prove disastrous for African football.

    Caf have instantly enhanced the profile of the terrorists worldwide and others who might wish to chance their arm in the future, beyond their wildest dreams.

    This is manna from heaven for them.

    "Hmm... let's shoot up a team bus and be remembered around the globe for at least the next two tournaments...."

    Are we now to assume that any fans unlucky enough to be attacked in South Africa in the World Cup will be fined by the authorities and banned from returning if they fail to use their ticket because they're in hospital?

    Presumably, most of this Caf crew will be lording it in SA during the World Cup - ambassadors in boardrooms and executive boxes extolling the virtues of African football and its importance in the continent's progress....

    This decision is sick and perverse. The entire Caf Executive Committe should resign in shame - but they won't, will they ?

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    I seriously couldn´t believe my eyes when I read that...in fact, I still can´t believe them - will definitely have an appointment made with my eye doctor.

    Most embarrassing decision ever ...

  • Comment number 21.

    I am absolutely flabbergusted by the decision made by he muppet of Issa Hayatou and his mugs! i am ashamed to be an African right now. why and why the CAF keep making this sort of blunders and get away with it is beyond me?

  • Comment number 22.

    So enraged at this stupidity can't put it into words! It's like pouring salt onto an open wound. The Togolese GK may be lucky to walk after this and Togo is being punished for lax security. Who advised them it was safe to drive through Cabinda?

  • Comment number 23.

    The only remedy befitting the injustice on Togo is FIFA banning CAF for two world cups for failure to protect players and their officials during tournaments or the families of the injured and deceased officials suing CAF for negligence and failure to protect them from rebels or criminals. These officials in CAF overstay and eventually build empires to an extent they feel they can do anything with impunity. In Fact CAF was supposed to be organizing tournaments in honor and fund raising on behalf of families of the officials that lost their lives. What do they do? Add salt to injury. What a shameful thing to do. Togo did not go to Angola on their own and had it not been for CAF picking Angola (Cabinda), this wouldn't have happened. Togo did not sign up to be killed, but play soccer. CAF and Angola must take responsibility. In fact the earlier the better.

  • Comment number 24.

    CAF must have been schooled by Sepp Blatter. An absolutely mind-boggling decision.

  • Comment number 25.

    I totally agree. This is one of the most monumentally stupid decisions taken in football history.

    It would probably never get off the ground, as FIFA would block it, but wouldn't it be a great gesture if UEFA invited Togo to take part in qualifying for the 2012 European Championships, to express Europe's contempt for this over-officious and insensitive decision?

    The CAF are not fit to run a whelk stall and FIFA should act to dismiss their hierarchy now. With Blatter in charge though, I won't hold my breath.

  • Comment number 26.

    People often witter on about the corruption that is endemic in large areas of Africa.

    To hear that the CAF have put money and pride ahead of the lives of people to try to justify their ill-though reasoning behind the grab of dirty oil money from Angola to hold the tournament there and then to try to wreak some sort of pathetic revenge attempt on the country that suffered the consequences of their greed, says more about coruuption in Africa that I could ever write about.

    Shame on the disgusting people who made the decision to punish the victims!

  • Comment number 27.

    This decision is incredibly crass and insensitive and makes Tony Blair seem like Mother Theresa.

  • Comment number 28.

    If Blatter wants so save his FIFA presidency, this is the perfect opportunity. I doubt anybody knows what CAF are trying to achieve with this ridiculous measure, but FIFA should overrule them. Ridiculous to punish Togo even more, after such a traumatic event.

  • Comment number 29.

    I do have to think the backstage political situation is responsible for a lot of this, because I'd hate to think people could be so dundearheadingly stupid over an issue like this by a free decision. Appalling stuff.

  • Comment number 30.

    As a proud African and citizen of this world, I am utterly disgusted and disappointed with the CAF. They have handled this whole thing very poorly. I agree with one of the above post. Coverage for the next two tournaments organised by the CAF should be cancelled. Give them some of their own medicine. Shame shame shame on them!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Why can CAF not see how ludicrous this decision is?
    Are FIFA afraid to get involved for some reason?

  • Comment number 32.

    Just when I thought the referee in the Egypt-Cameroon tie couldn't make anymore worse decisions than his previous 2 games, he gives Egypt a goal from 50 yards away and central with the ball coming back of the wood. Something he couldn't possibly give with any degree of certainty.

    The above was the most staggering negative of the tourney until I heard about this Togo ban.

    Unusually, words fail me.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm stunned. Im not sure whether the officials of CAF are being deliberately callous, or mind bogglingly stupid, either way this is one of the worst football decisions ever. I hope the other nations rally round Togo and pull out of the next competitions

  • Comment number 34.

    Totally agree this is a terrible decision. CAF website has a contact e-mail I have already e-mailed them direct - I hope all you guys do too. Let's bring their server down with the wieght of our outrage!

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    Are we surprised?This is the typical African way of thinking.By the way I am African and grew up in Nigeria.

  • Comment number 37.

    This decision is completly ludricious.

    The decision to play a group in Cabrinda was absolutly mind-boggling allowing for this: during the Iran-Iraq war both countries had to play all their games away from home. PS on this I could be wrong but don't think so.

  • Comment number 38.

    How on earth could anyone sit down to decide such a wicked decision? what were CAF expecting them ( The Togolese team) to do? play the game, score all the beutifull goals, win all their matches,win the cup, and expect them to be happy when thier brothers has just been shot dead? come on! what an absurd and a wicked decision from an organisation that has been proven to be useless.
    Personally,this is shameful and therefore should not be encouraged.Let us(Africans)come out from those days when football grounds were paraded by military men with machine guns.
    God Bless Africa, God Bless Ghana.

  • Comment number 39.

    It's an apalling decision and would not occur in any other sport. Come'on Fifa. Take the initative and act to reverse this ban Immediatly!!

  • Comment number 40.

    It has been announced that Toga have been banned for the next two African Nations Cup by C.A.F.
    What is the football world coming to?
    The tragedy of what happened to the Toga team has been utterly mishandled by C.A.F. They really have pushed the Togans noses into the dirt.
    To ban the team from the next two African nations Cup is absolutely dispicable.
    Also. to fine the Toga team as well. Insult to Injury to say the least.
    And we hear that FIFA have not commented.
    What are FIFA up to?
    There should have been an immediate condemnation of CAF's actions and a censoring of them at the same time.
    Am I alone in thinking this way?
    Comments welcome please.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think it's naive to expect officials governing African organisations to give a damn about the welfare of it's own people. History demonstrates the corrupt nature of those in power. They are more interested in back handers than improving the standard of living for their own country men and women.

    This decision is all about flexing political power and has nothing to do with football or the lives of African people. Hundreds of people die in Africa everyday due a lack of basics, should we really expect CAF to give a damn about 2 people being shot dead? It's more of an opportunity to gain one-upmanship

  • Comment number 42.

    This is one example why africa is always going backwards intead of moving forward because we always have incompetent people leading is in every diection.

  • Comment number 43.

    Shame to CAF and all those who made that terribly decision to ban Togo. the Togolese government should back the family of those who died including their goalkeeper to sue the CAF and the Angola government for the lost human live and injure to the goalkeeper.

  • Comment number 44.

    what an absolute disgrace - how can you ban a Team for something that was not of their making - if anyone is being banned it should be Angola for not ensuring the safety of visiting teams......
    surely Togo have suffered enough without a ban and a fine.......and what a time to announce it - the day before the Final - with the world watching African football, guess what they will be talking about...... not the football, but yet again what is going on off the pitch.........
    a sad day for football in general, and African football in particular.

  • Comment number 45.

    Someone is either mind boggling inept or there are other forces at work at here. However now it is going to become a politcal football about Africa and how backward it is. I think it's a shame. They say politics and sport shouldn't mix, well they are right. It's oil and water and this is what happens when people try to do it. What stuns me is that I could have handled the situation a 100 times better for a fraction of the salaries of those who do actually handle this sort of thing.

  • Comment number 46.

    CAF are an absolute disgrace. Despicable decision.

  • Comment number 47.

    Hayatou or whatever his name might be is a stupid dictator who has his brain in the pocket. I think he will attend a CAF tournement if two members of his family members were murdered for political disputs. Shame on you and all those who backed this decision. The togolese government should not pay any fines for your breakfast. He is a shame of african football.

  • Comment number 48.

    This is stupidity at the highest level. I wonder what decision caf would have taken had this involved Issah Hayatou himself. i think it time Hayatou and his comerades are booted out of the helm of affairs at caf. These guys dont understand it is people that football is all about.

  • Comment number 49.

    Genuinely staggering.

    This cannot have been a decision made to go hand in ahnd with public opinon, so why do it?

    I am genuinely amazed.

  • Comment number 50.

    This has got to go down as one of the craziest and immoral decisions in sporting history!

  • Comment number 51.

    Oo! CAF why? Can you sympathise with the players of Togo? At least they saw death face to face, how could they have played this competetion?

    Your decision is annoying and I implore all the West African Countries to protest against this wicked decision.

  • Comment number 52.

    I am disgusted by the decision. I sympathise for the players and the fans who have to suffer the consequences of such a stupid and heartless decision by CAF. The tournament should never have been held in Angola because it is not safe. CAF know this but want to shift the blame onto the victims.

    I do hope that the decision is overturned, and if not then other teams should just not take part either

  • Comment number 53.

    Absolutly shocking humanity, people have died players in shock, the Togolese were right to withdraw. would any of their players have been able to focus, I doubt it. What if this happened in the Euros which do beckon in Ukraine, say Italy got gunned somewhere. Would UEFA then ban them from everything, or Brazil at the world Cup would FIFA ban then.

    I know the rulings on government interferance that FIFA have, i.e. teams will be banned from competition if governments rule over the countries football federation. So, surely as governing body they need to step in and overturn this ridiculous ruling

  • Comment number 54.

    This is a perfect example of what I call
    "Blatter-think"
    -A decision of such incomparable stupidity that it evokes even more laughter than it does anger.

    For years to come, every time Togo play a football match, there will be TV commentators saying:
    ".... do you remember the CAF 2010, when the Togolese bus was attacked by terrorists, so they banned Togo from the competition?"

    This is your place in history, Mr Issa Hyatou. Enjoy.

  • Comment number 55.

    In all this, what's FIFA saying about it? They need to weigh in and broker this thing. Someone in the Confederation of African Football wants sacking for this (I was about to write 'shooting' but thought better of it)!

    If FIFA do nothing, then the big clubs should weigh in and speak up. If this had been a European club at the World Cup then no such sanctions would have been made.

  • Comment number 56.

    It may sound harsh, but Togo ignored travel advisories against road travel in the troubled Cabinda region, and as a result of that, this tragedy has occurred. Having said that, if Togo are to be punished for ignoring travel safety advice, CAF should be punished for ignoring safety in the decision to allow Cabinda Province to host matches knowing it is a region of rebel activity, and Angola should be punished for not providing adequate security for foreign teams in Cabinda.

    So perhaps CAF should ban themselves from organizing and running the next two championships also?

    Just as someone commented on it, CAF has nothing to do with organization of the World Cup in SA - that is FIFA's baby.

  • Comment number 57.

    The madness of Caf is bringing African Soccer to its knees. It is absolutely inhumane to impose such a punishment on Togo, especially at this time when they are mourning their departed fellows.

    The continental soccer body failed to offer security to the Togolese and it is now hiding from its mistakes by banning innocent Togolese. I hope Togo will win the appeal, and that The Caf management be replaced by people who see future in African Soccer. I regret such insensitivity from individuals who should be commanding veneration! Shame on CAF!

  • Comment number 58.

    First timer here!
    As an Irishman,I would love to regain some faith in FIFA.
    This is a million times worse than anything that happened to us Irish involving Mr.Henry, but there wasn't any precedent in place. Whereas this is an absolute disgrace! Mr. Blatter will genuinely regain some respect from the Irish public if he stands up and is to be counted over this George Orwell(1984) decision! Can you imagine the trauma the players and backroom staff went through,I couldn't,and to get banned because it........!Could use swear words, wouldn't solve anything

  • Comment number 59.

    Is there any site other than the backward CAF site where we could all come together and post our absolute disgust at this decision,if you could call it one?

  • Comment number 60.

    As a person brought up in Ghana, and hence with an interest in Africa, I am ashamed for Africa's reputation following this bizarre and indefensible decision.

    Petty politics and a lack of proper perspective on the human tragedy that took place seems to have blinded the CAF authorities on the matter.

    The relatives of the deceased, the football squad, and the nation of Togo, need to know to that the whole world, including the African continent, is in sorrow for their tragic loss.


    FIFA must intervene and use whatever tactics are necessary to speedily remedy this insult.

  • Comment number 61.

    Haha, these guys at Caf must be a bunch of jokers.....surely they're having us all on....ridiculous decision, rediculous decision....bang out of order, no wander people are sceptical about staging a world cup in africa

  • Comment number 62.

    A truly unbelievable decision by CAF and I very much believe that SA2010 will the last time Africa host the WC for a long time to come under the present administration of CAF. Choosing Cabinda as a host city was both geographically impractical, but also (evidently) extremely dangerous. Also, shouldn't Angola be dealing with widespread poverty instead of building stadiums???

    UEFA are, of course, the power brokers here - they should remind CAF where their stars play and are paid, and that their safety must be insured at all times. The threat should be clear - reinstate Togo or UEFA based players will not be released for CAN2012.

  • Comment number 63.

    when difficult to comprehend decisions are taken one can usually see the reason for it, even though one may disagree . In this case I see absolutely no rational for the ban. It seems to be a very cruel and heartless decision . Let's hope that the rest of the footballing world get's up in arms and forces the powers that concocted this injustice to change their decision. An absolute disgrace!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    Tongai, excellent comment sir,would like to copy and paste, my sentiments exactly! But can you actually see Blatter and Platini getting their collective fingers out? Rather than living in their little bubble?

  • Comment number 65.

    This is easily the stupidest decision I've ever heard of in all of sports administration. I cannot think of another that supersedes it for sheer idiocy.

  • Comment number 66.

    I actually agree with the princible of the decision, if not the punishment. It was the government of Togo who recalled the team and it is vital that government interference in sport is stopped, otherwise sport becomes simply another tool for government mis-use. While the tragic event can not be underplayed, we must remember that if we start to allow the independance of sport to be slowly eradicated, what will we have to pass on to futre generations?

  • Comment number 67.

    Hmmm...as of this moment, the reactions:

    ...of the entire world football hierarchy - massive fail...

    ...of Togo's African neighbours - massive fail...

    ...of the rest of the world - massive fail...

    ...as Pogo famously said, "We have met the enemy, and it is us..."

    ...but what can we legally do?

    In the Walter Mitty side of my imagination, of course, I would take actions that would have made the Third Reich's collective jaws drop, and build up a nice, eight figure body count to something from Raymond Scott - "The Toy Trumpet", perhaps?

    Of course, the only thing we can do, which would actually make FIFA, UEFA, CAF, and all the rest, actually do something, is to stop buying or consuming any product or service that even remotely benefits any professional or international side or organising body of football.

    And that will never happen, even from Chelsea fans, even if Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger would receive their P45's tonight as a result, followed immediately by a personal visit from Jeff Mallock...

    ...we have indeed met the enemy, and it is us....

  • Comment number 68.

    I call upon all football fans to join me in contacting CAF via its website, and saying that you will boycott this year's final, any tournaments that Togo are banned from, along with calling for the resignation of Issa Hayatou.

    This decision makes me sick. It's not what football should be about.

  • Comment number 69.

    All sport fans and teams for other countries should come together, resist this cruel decision by CAF and refuse to participate in future competitions. To punish a team that suffered the most tragic incident in the history of the African Cup of Nations competition is just madness. If this decision holds, then I will never watch any African Cup of Nations Competition. Personally, I feel this is a racist move by CAF on a Black skinned African nation as though the lives that were lost didn't matter at all. Where is the unity that sports should bring about? Is CAF a proponent of violence? Are they siding with the killers? Shouldn't they be publicly expressing sympathy with this nation instead of punishing them more? Enough is enough CAF.

    Dominic
    USA

  • Comment number 70.

    This is absurd and yet sadly predictable. The Federation are only following the lead of Blatter et al. Do these people have no humanity in them? I guess the answer is no.

    A bad day for the beautiful game. Professional Football is a professional game run by rank amateurs and idiots. It is time for UEFA who after all bankroll the rest of FIFA to stand up to idiotic decisions like this by allowing clubs to refuse to release their players (as most play in Europe) for the next two African Cups of Nations.

  • Comment number 71.

    This is a disgraceful decision by Caf.

    Here's another bright idea. Let's all stop playing cricket against Sri Lanka. They went home in similar circumstances, didn't they?

    Crazy... just crazy, you Caf people.

  • Comment number 72.

    I think that the whole CAF executive committee should be ban instead of Togo team starting from Mr Issa Hayatou. They are all a disgraced to the African nation with this their shameless injustice and partisan decision. It means that they have no respect for life. My question is this: If it is the Cameroonians that came under attack and lost two of their compatriot, will Issa Hayatou sanction them? I think it is time for Issa Hayatou to resign from that post because it is not his father's property. Shame on Caff Executive body

  • Comment number 73.

    As much as I agree that this is an insanely ridiculous decision by the CAF, I can understand why they made it, the first is the argument on the political front with them not wanted governments to get involved as it was in fact the togo government which banned them from playing. However I feel that would be petty and ridiculous and I hope to believe they made the decision for the following reason, every team was told they HAD to fly to the competition, it was one of the essentials for the tournament, clearly because they knew of the dangers and this was a way they could ensure protection for the participants. The more I look at it, I still believe this is a ridiculous punishment, but I can only hope they made it for the right reasons to ensure that teams listen to warnings in the future and not for their own agendas, unfortunately I do not believe this is the case.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    I know it's not the most active measure ever taken, but I've made a facebook group in support for the Togo appeal.

    Would appreciate if everyone sought it out and joined.

    'Support for togo national team appeal'

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 76.

    This decision means that a few football matches are more important than people's lives. It cannot and must not stand. FIFA must immediately over-rule it and restore Togo's rights. This isn't about government or political interference with sport, this is about protecting the lives of all those in the Togo side. It sets a terrible precedent and is totally anti-humantarian. As I am an American, I equate this reckless ruling would be as if Haiti were banned from the next two CONCACAF Gold Cups if they had withdrawn their side due to the earthquake. Even Bill Shankly knew that human lives are far more important than a few football matches. Mr. Blatter, the ball is definitely in your court.

  • Comment number 77.

    One word. Disgraceful.

  • Comment number 78.

    "Fifa declined to comment on the ban." What more do we need to know about these bozos? Perhaps John Terry can enlighten us.

  • Comment number 79.

    What doesn't make sense about this ruling is that Caf is punishing the wrong entity, simply because that's the only entity Caf has the authority to punish. In the process, the victims become more victimized. I didn't think Caf could do more harm to the situation after failing to admit it made a mistake with a host site, after accusing Togo of making the mistake, and after showing absolutely no sympathy for the team. I was wrong.

    Caf makes it sound like government intervention in this sport, and the use of football as a political tool, is the worst thing imaginable. When the Angolan government police were escorting teams to their respective sites in Cabinda, where were the punishments and fines? Where are the punishments and fines sanctioned on Angola after citizens of their country fatally assault another country's national team. The fact of the matter is, Togo didn't turn the Africa Cup of Nations into a political event, Angola's political climate did.

  • Comment number 80.

    Caf is manned by innept, corrupt, out of touch, dumb and insensitve hacks, who come from rank and file of the many corruput African governmental organizations. I accord equal blame to the Togolese government for lack of polical instinct to take advantage of tragic events that could have lifted the spirits of the nation, instead of drowning in tears of sorrow. The Togolese government acted like dumb-founded amateurs when they chose to bring their players back carrying coffins in their shoulders and crying like babies. I make no light of the tragic events. God knows they were severe. But surely what lacked was inspiring leadership from the Togo national team, Togolese government, government of Angola and Caf. Togo national team had a chance to show a brave face and complete its mission of playing football in adversity. It would have sent a message to those despicable cowards, who shot at and killed defenseless footballers and fightened the Dickens out them out of Cabinda. Togo lost many times by crying its way back to its country. Those cowards in Cabinda won big. Caf has flogged Togo barely after finishing whipping its tears of sorrow. I am insensed by this poor judgement of these innpet and corrupt Caf officials lead by Hayatu. I hope suitable replacements for this current crop of incompetent hacks at Caf will be found sooner. Else, we will endure more of the same embarassing episodes in years to come. Finally, I also wish to give a thumbs down to the government of Angola and its state-controlled footballing organization for its poor perparation and low attendance of games. Angola had no business hosting 2010 African Cup of Nations. It has no chops for it.

  • Comment number 81.

    I found what follows on a similar blog in the Guardian and thought it was interesting as a matter of debate:

    Isatman

    30 Jan 2010, 9:59PM

    The context easily lends to criticism of this administrative decision and makes it look stupid. However, CAF's rules are clear: a country qualified for the Cup of Nations can not withdraw less than 20 days before the start of the competition, except in a case of force majeure.

    Evidently the attack on the Togolese boss [bus]should be force majeure - that is if there is an administrative letter to indicate this by the Federation concerned. Note Federation and not government.

    All Togo's Federation had to do was write a formal letter to CAF on their decision to withdraw based on the justifiable reasons that we all know. Togo didn't and were pretty much involved in a spat on who was to blame and all the rest with CAF spearheaded by the Manchester City based captain and then their President who needs a few more hearts ahead of February's elections.

    Of course CAF is a bit too pedantic about the rules (due to a deservedly bruised ego). They should have glossed over this business. But from the moment they decided that Togo had been disqualified (not withdrawn) from the competition, the obvious next step was the sanction. For as a preceding poster has mentioned, there is a precedence with the Nigeria 1996-1998 situation.

    There is no need to be worked up though;be aware that this is a very African thing. By the time Faure Gnassingbe is re-elected via fraudulent elections and crushes a few weeks of protests in February-March, he'll meet CAF President Hayatou, both will provide a few TV mea culpas and Togo will be back.

    (NB: I simply copy-pasted)

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    The decision by CAF is not only inhumane and insensitive but a shame and shows the kind of people running the football body. I am so disgusted with the decision. It is a shame that CAF cannot show respect for the dead and sympathy for the gruesome encounter the togolese team went thruough. Such a sad and awful decision.

  • Comment number 84.

    This is a disgraceful decision. It's beyond measure.. how can they be so disrespectful?
    Fifa declining to comment? They should have overuled this decision instantly.

    I was having a conversation with my friend only yesterday, and we agreed Togo should hold the next (yet to be organised) ACN to honour the dead.. clearly CAF have other idea's regarding honour.

    ... I could go on, but I really don't know where I would stop..

  • Comment number 85.

    Seriously,what is wrong with CAF? people died! describing this decision as 'cruel','inhumane' and 'stupid' is an understatement. I can think of at least 20 adjectives to describe how CAF's action makes no sense at all.

    ACN has been under a lot of criticism already,with it being held bi-annually and in January,which is a problem to players as they have to decide whether they should show patriotism and put on their national team's colour or honour the already-signed contract and stay at their club.Amid the pandemonium of this decision, I don't see ACN gaining any popularity, or even anything positive.

  • Comment number 86.

    Bullied twice over!!
    "Banned from the next two African Nations Cup and fined 50,000 U.S. dollars."
    How can this decision ever be accepted by the World's sporting community?
    It is absolutely unbelievable!
    Of course the Togolese team had to forfeit the finals in Angola! How could they go on to compete after the carnage!
    But to punish them for that understandable forfeit is totally out of line.
    I hope FIFA will do something about this stupid decision!

  • Comment number 87.

    Although i agree totally with this article,I feel i must comment on your ridiculous comparison between Buckingham Palace and CAF. It was the Royal Family decision to grieve in private. They are not an organisation, but human beings deciding to do what they had been brought up to. Sure, they misjudged the public mood, but it was not an organisational error but a generation gap error.
    This is entirely different, it is not a misjudgement of public mood, but a political spitefulness of incredible proportions.

  • Comment number 88.

    I think it’s a one Man's decision!
    And in truly African Spirit, I call upon all Africans to unite against the decision to ban TOGO. I’m sorry their government had to interfere into the matter. But that is what the governments are there for, do things for their nation’s interest. TOGO Team got shot at, and all lost 2 of their people, their do not deserve this kind of treatment!
    I hope Egypt and Ghana will boycott the Final, today!
    CAF is for the amusement of all African’s not just CAF president!
    Man, this he is transforming CAF into Dictatorship!

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    What cheek! What brazen insensitivity. Its like cutting an innocent baby's arm off and then slapping it for crying in pain, rather than having to answer for the enormity.

    If this is allowed to stand, FIFA, nay the human race itself will lose all credibiliy.

  • Comment number 92.

    Disgusting and disgraceful decision. Whoever is responsible for this decision within CAF should be forced to step down immediately for the good of the game.

  • Comment number 93.

    This is indeed one of the most inhumane and stupid decisions that has ever been taken in football. I think most of what I was going to say has been said already but I for one will not be watching the Egypt-Ghana (I was originally going to split the coverage between that and the Arsenal-United match) game. The BBC ratings I'm sure will take a hit as many will feel an obligation not to view the final as a matter of principal.

  • Comment number 94.

    Abolish CAF (Boycott CAF)It is all about Politics too...Shame On You CAF

  • Comment number 95.

    CAF craves recognition and credibility in the sporting world but demonstrates idiocy & insensitivity of the first order.

    Absolutely unbelievable.

  • Comment number 96.

    i think CAF shud be punished by the world cup getting withdrawn from them and i would say it shud be bought to europe but after france n ireland its a joke too. fifa has lost its respect and the football family needs to fix up QUICK

  • Comment number 97.

    CAFs decision is beyond comprehension and absolutely ludicrous. Their lack of compassion is completely outside the true spirit of football. They believe they are above the game. I wonder how they would feel if the tables were reversed? It's a great opportunity for the CAF members who oppose the decision to unite and send a strong message of disapproval. FIFA should also step in and override this preposterous decision... the sooner the better.

  • Comment number 98.

    Thanks for the article!

    A question: I've heard talk that Blatter needs Hayatou's votes at FIFA meetings. How true is this? Will any of Togo's neighbours - several of whom were in Togo's Cabinda group - switch voting allegiance (within CAF and/or FIFA) as a result of this - er - most peculiar decision?

  • Comment number 99.


    Ever wonder why Caf organized the tournament in a war-zone? Money! Angola is able to provide plenty of Petro Dollars, ironically, Petro Dollars from the Cabinda oilfields. Caf has placed money over the lives of the dead Togolese officials and bus driver. Also, Caf could not stand the fact that the withdrawal of Togo meant loss of revenues from TV rights and ticket sales. Greed and insensitivity is behind Caf's inhumane action in suspending Togo. Caf had many options to organize the tournament in a safe and peaceful African country but decided to go after Angola's Petro Dollars. Angola was willing to dish out money to promote its image abroad and demonstrate to the world that it is a stable country for foreign investors. So both Caf and Angola were concerned with money not the lives of officials killed in a war zone.

  • Comment number 100.

    i implore the players of ghana and egypt to take the field, sit down and refuse to play in support of togo. this would have the most impact against the caf and their inhuman decision. forget the worthless caf trophy and take a stand for humanity. we are with you togo.

 

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