Togo have been kicked out of the next two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments due to their withdrawal from the current tournament in Angola. Now, I have no doubt that CAF are acting in line with the rules and regulations in their petty little rule books, but just how insensitive, stupid and downright ignorant is this decision?
CAF released a statement saying that they understood the Togolese decision not to play in Angola but said,
‘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.’
Just to add further insult, CAF fined the Togo federation US$50,000.
I may be missing the point here, but the Togo team bus came under a sustained machine gun attack that left players shocked and injured and two team officials sadly dead. I can’t find the words to describe a decision to punish that team for then withdrawing from the competition.
The final of the competition takes place today and when football writers around the world should be writing about African football and the prospects for that game, CAF have ensured by making this inexplicable decision that they have turned potentially positive coverage of African football to something far more unpleasant and sinister.
CAF have told Togo that they can appeal against the decision. That is big of them. Of course Togo must appeal and they must get the ban overturned. If that happens quickly then African football’s organisers and rulers may just be able to rescue a tiny part of the crumbling remains of any respect that anyone around the world may now have for them.
As young Togolese footballers are trying to recover, physically and mentally, from a terrible ordeal, they have now been told that if they can resurrect their career and get playing again, they won’t be able to compete in the next two of the premier tournament on their continent
This is a disgrace and SoccerNews truly hopes that this awful decision can be overturned quickly.