World football's governing body, FIFA, has expressed condolences to Mozambique for a bus accident being described as the worst soccer tragedy in the African country's history.
At least 12 players and officials from the Mozambican club Wane Pone were killed in the accident April 22, and 13 others were seriously injured.
FIFA president Joseph "Sepp" Blatter and FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi sent a letter to Mozambican football federation president Mario Esteves Coluna offering their deepest condolences.
“This is a terrible day for your country’s football, which has made so much progress over the tenure of your presidency,” the letter said. “In the name of FIFA, and the international football community, we would like to express our deepest condolences and sympathy to the entire nation and the families of the victims.”
As Mozambicans mourn the football tragedy, the country's national team is preparing for a trip to neighboring Zambia next month for a COSAFA Castle Cup quarterfinal match. "The Chipolopolo" of Zambia are the favorites to win the game May 10 in their capital, Lusaka. In the latest FIFA rankings released April 23, Zambia is ranked 12th in Africa, while Mozambique is 22 places below, at number 34. The Zambians are also two-time Castle Cup champions, having won the first two editions of the tournament in 1997 and 1998. Mozambique has never won the Castle Cup crown.