Accessibility links

South African Officials Dismiss World Cup Concerns After Angola Attack

  • Scott Bobb

Organizers of football's World Cup in South Africa are dismissing media reports that Friday's attack on the Togolese football team in Angola could affect the sport's biggest tournament when it kicks off in South Africa in June.

The head of South Africa's Organizing Committee for the football World Cup, Danny Jordaan, is pleading for fairness. He says the attack against Togo's national team prior to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola had nothing to do with South Africa's ability to hold the World Cup in five months.

"We should not be asked, nor should we be condemned by what happened in a country far away from us, because we do not apply the same standard when we come to any other country," he said.

During a news conference in Johannesburg, he said the attack occurred thousands of kilometers from South Africa in a region where separatist guerrillas have been operating for decades.

He said that is like questioning Germany's ability to hold the 2006 World Cup because of the terrorist bombings in Spain and Britain.

The football community was shocked by the attack on the Togolese team as it traveled by bus Friday from its training camp in Congo Republic to the Angolan enclave of Cabinda.

The team's assistant coach and spokesman were killed in the attack and its back-up goalkeeper is in critical condition after undergoing surgery for his wounds in a Johannesburg hospital. At least seven other people were also wounded.

The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda claimed responsibility. For three decades the group has been fighting for independence in the oil-rich territory.

One of its leaders said the target of the attack was not the Togolese team, but its Angolan security escort. He said the violence would continue if the Angolan government rejected its offer of dialogue.

A second faction of FLEC also claimed responsibility, but said it was suspending any action during the tournament.

Angolan authorities have tightened security in Cabinda and say they have arrested two suspects in the incident.

Monday's opening match in Cabinda between Togo and Ghana was canceled after Togo withdrew to observe three days of mourning. But the second match between Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso went ahead without incident, ending in a nil-nil draw.

Earlier that day, Malawi upset Algeria three-nil in Luanda

World Cup organizers, backed by football's governing body, FIFA, say South Africa will be ready for the event that is expected to draw 400,000 fans from around the world.

Work on five new stadiums and five refurbished arenas has been completed. Thousands of new police officers have been recruited and security equipment worth millions of dollars has been bought.

Officials also note the country has hosted dozens of major international sporting events, including the rugby and cricket world cups, the African Cup of Nations and last year's Confederations Cup, without incident.