British football club sends star to play in middle of African civil war

(Note: VFR’s Indian reader living the West defends the Caribbean.)

We know that Brits love to leave their sun-challenged island to go on holiday in sunny African and Caribbean climes, despite the fact that British vacationers have not infrequently been murdered in those tropical paradises (see this, this, this, and this). Liberals, of course, don’t consciously want to be killed. But they also seem highly reluctant to acknowledge and respond to politically incorrect facts of life that may put their lives at risk.

Here’s a story that goes a bit beyond the usual British absentmindedness. Angola is in a civil war with a breakaway guerrilla group called the Forces of Liberation of the State of Cabinda. So what did the Manchester City Football Club do? It sent one of its star players to participate in a game in Angola between the Togo national team and an Angolan team, and on the way to the game, the bus carrying the Togo team was attacked by armed Cabindan rebels.

The story is from CNN:

A bus carrying Togo’s national soccer team to a tournament in Angola came under fire Friday, and Togolese officials said they were weighing whether to pull out of the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations, which starts Sunday.

There were conflicting reports on the casualties. Angola’s official press agency, ANGOP, reported nine people were wounded—eight Togolese and one Angolan. Earlier, Togo striker Thomas Dossevi, who was on the bus, said the bus driver was killed in the attack and three others were injured.

An armed wing of a separatist group—the Forces for Liberation of the State of Cabinda—claimed responsibility for the attack. CNN cannot independently verify the claim.

“We were attacked by armed rebels who used Kalashnikovs. We had just passed the border and a couple of minutes later we were attacked from both sides.

“We hid below the seats—we had police protection in front and behind but we were attacked from both sides. As soon as I heard the bullets I went to the floor … the attack lasted for 10 to 15 minutes.

“Everyone is at the hospital, the whole team, as everybody wants to be with the injured players. We’re waiting to get police protection so we can go to the hotel and sleep,” Dossevi said.

The team was headed to Angola for the competition when it was attacked near the border between Angola and the Republic of Congo, according to the Manchester City Football Club in Britain, who had one of its star players on the bus.

“Manchester City can confirm that striker Emmanuel Adebayor is uninjured after this afternoon’s attack on the Togo team bus in Angola,” a statement on the club’s Web site said.

“Club officials have spoken with Adebayor and though shaken by the terrible events, he is unharmed.”

“We are currently in talks with the Football Association over what may happen next,” the club said.

Togo is scheduled to play Ghana on Monday in Cabinda, which is one of the tournament venues.

Cabinda is a disputed, oil-rich enclave located within the Democratic Republic of Congo. A strip of that nation separates it from Angola, one of the world’s largest energy producers and a major supplier of petroleum and liquefied natural gas to the U.S. market.

Angola, which was wracked by civil war for nearly three decades, brokered a peace deal in 2006 with separatists seeking an independent republic of Cabinda.

Manchester City Manager Roberto Mancini expressed condolences for the injured players and their families.

“Our thoughts are with the Togo team, their Football Association and the people. We send them our best wishes at this traumatic time,” he said.

Togo is a strip of a nation that averages about 60 miles wide, nestled between Benin and Ghana in West Africa. It is smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia.

- end of initial entry -

Alan M., who sent the item, writes:

What would possess an international organization to participate a sports tournament in a revolution-torn country—other than liberalism.

Evan H. writes:

Alan M. asks: “What would possess an international organization to participate a sports tournament in a revolution-torn country?”

Apropos of soccer, another question is, “What would possess FIFA to hold the 2010 World Cup in South Africa?” I have an acquaintance who is attending, a “Mitt Romney conservative” who would never talk openly about racial differences. When I told him he was crazy, he informed me that his group had already arranged for armed escorts.

Jason R. writes:

Manchester City, like all other club teams, has no choice but to release fit and available players for international duty. A sizeable proportion of the African Cup teams play for European teams. The club vs country issue is a major bone of contention within football.

LA replies:

Thanks, Can you explain why a British player (or, as seems to be the case here, an African in Britain who plays on a British team) would join the Togo team for a single tournament? How do teams have any meaning, if players from different teams can move around from team to team like that as it suits the various teams’ convenience?

Mark Jaws writes:

I am sure some readers remember the Mark Jaws Rule of Security in the Third World. [See this entry.] Westerners and East Asian Firstworlders (such as Japanese and Koreans) should never put their safety and well being in the hands of third worlders, particularly black Africans and Afro-Caribbeans. If such people are to travel in these areas they should be armed to the teeth. To do otherwise, is to put their lives in extreme danger. The record of slain Western tourists is hideously gruesome, and only the most Eloi of Ostriches would deny it.

Hannon writes:

You wrote: “How do teams have any meaning, if players from different teams can move around from team to team like that as it suits the various teams’ convenience?”

Funny you should write this in the present context as it is precisely how I have long felt about professional U.S. teams. There should be a rule that you had to have been born or at least brought up in the city whose team you play for. It would bring new meaning to the words “competition” and “pride” and then there would be something to really cheer about.

D. writes from Seattle:

You asked: “Can you explain why a British player (or, as seems to be the case here, an African in Britain who plays on a British team) would join the Togo team for a single tournament? How do teams have any meaning, if players from different teams can move around from team to team like that as it suits the various teams’ convenience?”

If I remember correctly from my days growing up in Eastern Europe, it has been (and based on this news, it still seems to be) standard practice for teams that have foreign players on their roster to release those players to their national teams (assuming those players are on national teams) when national teams play. For example, a Polish player with FC Milan would go back home to play with Polish national team for national events, potentially even against some of his club teammates in case of Poland playing against Italy.

This may seem strange to Americans, but it has been standard European practice for decades.

LA replies:

So then this Emmanuel Adebayor is a Togoian, I guess.

January 11

Christopher C. writes:

D. from Seattle has it. The player is, at least, a holder of Togo citizenship. Some international players have, or could have, dual citizenship. There are some rules as to (choosing) which national team one player. It’s usual to release the players for these tournaments; they’re prestigious, fun (well, sans the AK-47 attacks), and a whole bunch of good things, including traditional good old patriotism.

But I write to add: England is currently covered with snow; for the past week and a half dozens and dozens of matches up and down the country and throughout the leagues and clubs, have been canceled. From the coach/trainer point of view, releasing this player so he could take part in some medium-level competition might have seemed good practice; would have at least kept the player in better “form” as the English say, i.e. in shape.

An Indian living in the West writes:

I’ll make a rare exception here and stick up for the Brits and the Europeans in their love of the Caribbean (although Africa is a different matter).

It is true that most of the islands in the Caribbean are dangerous places. It is also true that the danger there does not prevent huge numbers of Brits, Europeans, and Americans from going there. I will actually defend this phenomenon. It is true that there have been incidents where British and European tourists have been murdered there. But in the true conservative tradition, we would need to look at how many tourists go and how many of them have been murdered. My guess is (though I haven’t crunched numbers here), that their percentage would be small enough to be largely insignificant. The real reason for this is not that those places are not dangerous but the fact that tourism in the Caribbean is mostly very well organised and so long as people do not do silly things like wander around the islands on their own or rent unguarded villas, there is actually very little risk.

I never got the point of going to the Caribbean until I lived in Europe and realised how horrible the weather is (especially in Northern Europe) most of the time. Britain is particularly famous for its lousy weather but much of Northern Europe isn’t much better. The weather in the Caribbean is paradise by comparison. If all you want to do is escape to a sunny climate for a week to relax and enjoy the sun, the private resorts in the Caribbean cater for this magnificently. Actually, anyone who hasn’t spent some time in either the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba or Antigua (or any of the other islands that have a similar climate) has really missed one of the great pleasures of life.

Cuba is a particular case in point. Of all the countries I have been to, I would say that I enjoyed visiting Cuba more than any other—not because I like Castro or Communism but because it is (since the Commies turned the island’s flourishing economy into a basket case) so cheap. The beaches there were at par with the best I have ever seen, snorkelling there is terrific and the food and music (for a week’s trip) very very enjoyable. And Havana is an interesting experience in itself. It is somewhat frozen in time and one can almost experience what Cuban exiles would have experienced in the later fifties—the beautiful Mediterranean architecture of its past (from the 15th century onwards) until the 1950s and then the ugly Soviet architecture of the Castro era. It is a shame that most of your readers cannot see it because of the embargo.

Jamaica also has some stunning beaches and again, if one sticks to the private resorts and doesn’t loiter around, its a fabulous place to visit. The islands of the Bahamas also have dangerous parts to them but again, they have some great private resorts that are worth spending some time in. Nassau is enjoyable as well. Antigua was where a newly married British couple was murdered recently. However, once again, they stayed in an unguarded villa (this also happened with some other people) and were killed. Although this isn’t a fair comparison, I would say its like living in an un-gated community in LA. Should one never visit LA for this reason? No.

If you love the sun and the sea, the Caribbean is hard to beat. Cuba was to Americans (before Castro) what Monaco is to Europeans. It has such an amazing and colourful history and Americans are such an integral part of it that the last half a century seems like a total aberration.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 10, 2010 08:42 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):