The continued inability or unwillingness of some to see Africa as a continent of many nations rather than a single country, means South Africa is now “required” to explain an insurgent attack on a bus carrying Togolese soccer players from the Republic of Congo to Angola’s Cabinda province.
The attack by separatists there on Friday has shaken the soccer community and has given naysayers another opportunity to question SA’s readiness to host the soccer World Cup in June.
FIFA Local organising Committee CE Danny Jordaan has so far – to use a cricket metaphor – batted away all the googlies he’s been bowled, noting that Cabinda is about 3000km away from SA. He noted that in Europe the same distance would take one from London to Moscow. Somehow linking an attack by separatists in Cabinda to security for the World Cup is the same as demanding from Britain assurances that all will be well with the 2012 London Olympics should any security incidents happen anywhere in Europe for the next two years. “That is illogical,” Jordaan says. Quite so.
Jordaan also added the English cricket team, currently in SA has raised no concerns, neither did the many alarmist reports on the Cabinda incident and its alleged implications for SA, “probably because it was not football,” Jordaan said.
He has also said government had invested R1.3 billion in security for the event and has been planning and practicing since 2004. One can add that the security forces conducted several preparatory exercises last year and had two “live practices” that went flawlessly as well: the Confederations Cup in June and the FIFA draw in December.
Of note though was that Jordaan told a press conference yesterday that Angola had been warned about Cabinda and that it “knew for years that staging Africa’s premier football tournament in the restive enclave of Cabinda posed a security risk,” according to this morning’s Sowetan newspaper.
“It is a responsibility of the host nation to deal with those issues,” said Jordaan, who led a technical team to Angola in 2006 to assess its readiness for the tournament, on behalf of the Consideration of African Football (CAF). All the concerns about the tournament were included in a report that was handed over to CAF, he said.
“We must be judged on reality, not on perception. We hosted 147 major international events since 1994 and we didn’t have any incidents,” he said.
In the words of IATA CE Giovanni Bisignani: BASTA!