Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ebola football panic

I have returned to dear Liberia after two months where I had to leave because of the panic that has hit everywhere. This has also touched football, showing that irrational and idiotic fear based on prejudice and ignorance are as much a part of football as in the rest of society.
The first example that has really baffled me is Morocco's refusal to host the African Cup of Nations in January, amid fears of the spread of the virus. Of the three countries with the contagion, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, only Guinea has a chance, albeit very small, of qualifying. But as with Europe and US, the fear of Ebola seems to be rooted in a general fear of Sub-Saharan Africa, not to say racism, as described in a recent article I read. Despite WHO saying that they saw little risk (notwithstanding that the three countries will not qualify, I do not think Ebola patients were considering traveling to watch football), Morocco went ahead to cancel it. Fortunately, CAF has reacted by throwing them out, as the tournament has been moved to Equatorial Guinea.
I hope Morocco faces a long suspension.
Another example is Borussia Dortmund not letting their Gabonese player, Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang, not play for his national team in today's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Angola, which ended 0-0, and keeps Gabon with good chances of qualifying for Equatorial Guinea.
Now, Gabon has not Ebola, and does not border any of the affected countries. Angola has not cases and does not border any of the affected countries. Even in the unlikely case that someone had Ebola, would they be playing football...?
Borussia Dortmund may be ignorant. However, I think that Ebola is just major clubs latest excuse for not releasing their African players. Expect more of the same.
This is beyond football. It is ignorance. It is racism by other means, and if football is going to fight racism, it should also attack decisions based on ignorance.

No comments: