February 5, 2015
A lot of the post-match reactions to the crowd trouble that marred Ghana’s excellent Nations Cup semi-final win over hosts Equatorial Guinea on Thursday has sadly focused on the negatives, again painting Africa as that dark part of the globe. Sadly this chorus has been led by the African media. Even sadder is that the need to revel in the dirt has blinded us all to the diligent and laudable work done by the Equatoguinean police and tournament organisers who that acted swiftly to bring the situation under control. As usual, the “only in Africa” chants have rented the air, starkly ignoring the fact that all around the world – to this day – this is a disease that dogs the beautiful game. Many forget that the Equatoguineans had less than three months to prepare for the hosting of this tournament. Given the timing involved, the reaction of the riot police of this tiny nation was nothing short of amazing. Not only did they check the menace of the frustrated fans of the Nzalang, they ensured no player or official was hurt, and there have been no reports of any major injuries to the traveling fans. For the records, we consider the actions of the host fans inexcusable, but find the same rush of blood to the head the triggers and escalates these dastardly acts, in reactions from people who should know better.
It was disappointing for instance to read a Ghana FA official tweet during the fracas that “Police helicopter hovers above the pitch with the Ghana fans in real danger. It’s now like a war zone.” The foreign media happily borrowed his “War Zone” phrase and added the “barbaric acts of vandalism” from the same official. You would think this is unique to Africa. Only in October Albanian players were brutalised by Serbians in a Euro 2016 qualifier in Belgrade after a drone flew in a politically offensive message. The matched was abandoned. A year earlier England fans were attacked in Kiev by “50 to 100” knife-wielding Ukrainian fans ahead of a World Cup qualifying match. While the Malabo attack was an isolated incident, the notorious Barra Bravas in Argentina and ultras in Brazil repeatedly do worse. What’s the point of this then? Is it to turn a blind eye to disgusting behaviour by a few Equatoguinean hooligans? NO! By all means CAF should penalise the guilty parties. However there is no need to make war where there is none because of the actions of a few misdirected individuals. There is also no need make this into an “African” problem.
Police protect the Nzalang Nacional who were not spared by the fans.
Crowd problems a global problem for the beautiful game.
Africa needs a new narrative. One of peace and true brotherliness. Had the Ghana FA official that tickled himself by getting melodramatic about the events in Malabo not been blinded by his own narrow interests, he may have seen a better, more constructive way to get his message out. “Trouble in Malabo as Equatoguinean fans attack Ghanaians. Riot police, CAF and GFA officials working together to avert any casualties. Players, officials and fans safe for now,” communicates the same truth, if not more so. We also think the Equatoguinean players deserve praise for working hand-in-hand with the officials to protect and reassure the Black Stars. They were visibly embarrassed and clearly wanted no association with the actions of the fans. Nzalang skipper Emilio Nsue apologised saying: “I’d like to say sorry. It was something we’ve never experienced before.” The coach Esteban Becker added: “I am sad about the way the fans acted out there.”
Ghana celebrate ahead of a potentially great final against Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday.
Sheath your swords people and let’s enjoy what has been a great tournament so far, with perhaps the best final for years before us. Thankfully no lives were lost and hopefully CAF will take some action. But to the Equatoguinean police and the organisers we say thank you for being truly Nzalang Nacional (National Lighting).
Source: Africa Plays