11 January 2010
South African President Jacob Zuma and Fifa president Sepp Blatter each sent their condolences to Togo following Friday’s terrorist attack on the Togolese football team in Angola, while insisting that the incident had no bearing on South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup™.
Angolan separatist rebels attacked the Togolese team bus in Cabinda on Friday, two days before the opening of the 2010 African Nations Cup. Three people – the assistant coach, a press officer and the bus driver – were killed in the attack.
Kodjovi Obilale, Togo’s reserve goalkeeper, was badly wounded, and was airlifted to South Africa, where he underwent surgery in Johannesburg’s Milpark Hospital on Sunday.
While Togo pulled its team out of the event, the African Nations Cup kicked off in Luanda on Sunday, with Mali holding the hosts Angola to a 4-4 draw in the opening game.
President Zuma, who flew to Luanda to attend the opening ceremony, said the “shocking and unacceptable attack on the Togolese team should not be blown out of proportion, but should serve as impetus for the African continent and the world at large to work even harder to rid the world of terrorist activity and violence wherever it surfaces”.
In a statement issued by the Presidency on the weekend, Zuma wished those injured in the attack a speedy recovery, while extending South Africa’s support to the Angolan government “in its ongoing hard work of bringing about total peace and stability in the country”.
Zuma “reiterated that South Africa remains one hundred percent ready to host the Fifa World Cup, and dismissed speculation that the Angolan incident had any bearing on the World Cup tournament in South Africa.”
Sepp Blatter, meanwhile, in a letter sent to African Football Confederation (CAF) president Isaa Hayatou, said that Friday’s attack “cannot dispel the fact that Africa has written some of the greatest chapters in the history of world football. Africa is the birthplace of some of the greatest players ever to have graced the game.
“The continent will soon play host to the Fifa World Cup for the very first time, as is its due,” Blatter said. “I have faith in Africa, and it is with this faith that together we will organise world football’s showcase event in 2010.”
2010 Local Organising Committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo said there was “no link between what happened in Angola and South Africa’s preparations to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
“We have prepared for any eventuality,” Mkhondo said in a statement. “Given South Africa’s exemplary record of hosting major events, we remain confident that everyone coming to South Africa will have a safe and secure experience in our country.”
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