The BBC and others are reporting that the Confederation of African Football has banned Togo from participating in the next Africa Cup tournaments. Why? Because after being shot at and seeing their comrades killed in Angola they decided to withdraw from recent competition. At least, that is the general story (see clip below).
Some observers, such as Nkareng Matshe, have tried to point out that the ruling was based on the fact that the Togolese government requested its players withdraw. And the Caf does not like governments “meddling”, in their affairs. The argument is that some Togolese players wanted to keep playing, in memory of their fallen teammates, but were “summoned” home early by their government. While government meddling may be a legitimate concern, this does not seem like a great place to make a point. Even if the players said they wanted to go on playing, I suspect a legitimate argument could be made that they were in shock and that it may have been equally as good for them to go home (note: I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist so this is not a professional opinion). And it may be that their best interests were what their government had in mind. And, if anything, Caf owes Togolese players an apology for poor security in Angola.
This is one bad decision by Caf that I expect will be overturned, especially as news of it continues to spread and protests continue in Togo.