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2010… From Angola to South Africa

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Friday’s tragic incident in Angola, where three individuals were murdered and several others were wounded after terrorists opened fire on Togo’s national soccer team, has brought about an increasingly discerning eye upon South Africa’s preparation for this year’s World Cup.  Understandably, South African officials have been defensive to the suggestion that the Angolan attacks demonstrate a state of instability in the region.  Nevertheless, the attacks should serve as a warning that ekecheiria – the ancient Olympic truce – is not extended to today’s athletes, officials or fans.   

In the WSJ, Gabriele Marcotti insists blame must be placed upon tournament organizers and the governing body of soccer in Africa.  He cites the tumultuous past of the Cabinda Enclave, as reason enough for excluding the site from the African Cup of Nations.  The Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave has claimed responsiblity for the attack.  They are militants that have sought independence from Angola for three decades, and were given the “opportunity” to advance their cause when tournament directors chose to hold the African Cup of Nations in their backyard.  These terrorists were opportunist.  If a tragedy is to befall the World Cup, it will be a calculated action.

Petty crime was the topic of conversation surrounding last year’s Confederation Cup held in South Africa.  Only a few instances were reported and it should be assumed that World Cup tourists should feel safe during their travels, if they keep their wits about them; however, those groups which seek to cause cataclysmic damage are a serious threat – I must state I do not believe anything will happen, but to be naïve as to the possible threats is to invite catastrophe.  In a country expansive as South Africa it cannot be assumed that the borders are secured from terrorists, and as we have seen with the Christmas attack, Al Qaeda’s reach has expanded into Africa.  The threat of a terrorist attack should be acknowledged and discussed.  Acceptance of the threat will not weaken the spirit of the games, but will strengthen our resolve for peace.  We accept that we have not eradicated the ethos of those which hope to cause confusion and fear, and have placed a faith in the uniting spirit of athletic competition.  Where the sweat of athletes is the currency of victory, and the pain of defeat is off set by nationalistic pride.  May the 2010 World Cup espouse the virtue of sport!

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Written by Peter Amador

January 11, 2010 at 10:23 PM

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