Life and Issues with Tunde Thompson
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, 08056180022
Although the world has so far been made to think that the September 8 Africa Nations’ Cup match between Nigeria and Liberia at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium ended in a two-goals draw, the aim of this article is to contend that there was more to that encounter than met the eyes.
And also, that the time has really come to stop terrorism in sports (especially soccer), on the African continent. Let us begin by first seeking agreement on one issue: How can terrorism be manifested in football, and how was that element amply demonstrated two Saturdays ago? But as we first need to grapple with the concept of terror, it is pertinent to acknowledge that the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary gives four meanings for the word: “A feeling of extreme fear….
A person, situation or thing that makes you (anybody) very afraid; violent action or the threat of violent action that is intended to cause fear…. with terrorism, which means a campaign of terror or the use of terror tactics, as a synonym….” Furthermore, a terrorist is “a person who takes part in terrorism”, while the word “terrorize” means “ to frighten and threaten people so that they will not oppose something or will do as they are told.”
The first accusation against the Liberian football fans is that on Saturday, September 8, 2012, they acted without a modicum of empathy and reciprocity consciousness in them. We cannot fault Mrs. Sirleaf – Johnson, the Liberian President(sorry am so upset that I cannot remember any of their first or last names now), for going the extra kilometre to get Liberians even free of charge into the pitch, because that is part of leadership’s esprit de corps (motivational) responsibilities.
They deserve to be carpeted, however, for taking the Nigerian team to a sub-standard hotel into which they could not have checked their own national team. Secondly, the Liberians decided to give the Nigerian team – the Super Eagles – a rickety bus without any air-conditioning; the type that could break down anywhere and anytime. It is not as if Nigeria ever did such a thing to them and that they were only reciprocating an unfriendly gesture.
My contention is that when they sought to accommodate the team in a sub-standard hotel, exposing them to mosquitoes and other dangers, and also offered them a bus (called “molue” in this part of the world), that they did not choose to use themselves, Liberia was resorting to the adoption of terror tactics against Nigeria, soccer-wise..
Thirdly, it needs to be understood that because the Liberian football officials did these, they should be seen as trying not only to assure discomfort for the Nigerian side, but to unduly subject them to mental and physical disorder and torture, which are the keys to unco-ordinated performances (individually and collectively) on the soccer field. After all, it is not until people or places are bombed; set on fire, or riddled with bullets, that we can begin to recognize the terrorists in other people. The fourth accusation,based on a report by the Nigerian Press, is that after the match in which the Liberians forced a draw, the rampaging fans did some despicable things, such as holding the Nigerian team hostage after the match.
As reported on Monday, September 10, at page 60 by the Daily Sun: “The Super Eagles and their officials were held hostage inside the dressing room for their own safety following angry crowd reaction that greeted the result. The fans had pelted the players with satchets of pure water, empty cans and bottles after the game and security agencies made up of Nigeria soldiers on peace-keeping mission came to the rescue and led the team to the dressing room where they stayed for more than 50 minutes after the game.
They had to wait for the crowd to disperse before they were led back to the hotel.” What a shame!!! Did those people want to kill the players, or what? Ironically, the fans later besieged the hotel “for autographs and photo sessions”! What if they had been killed or sustained injuries from all those attacks against which they were protected by the patriotic ECOMOG security agents, over whom Nigeria has spent billions of Naira since the last millennium.
With such “friends”, who needs an enemy? These mean that we should be more critical over the resultant 2 – 2 draw. One cannot but believe that if the team had got a straight victory, what was reported and quoted above would have been relatively a child’s play. I ask: is such aggressive behavior in keeping with the spirit and letters of the ECOWAS; the Africa Union (AU) and the FIFA and all other sporting organization around the world?
The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), has been ordering Coach Stephen Keshi to reshuffle the team. Although one thinks that that may be important to them, it is at the moment more urgent for football authorities everywhere to advocate more proactive steps to protect football teams against the sort of terrorism visited on the Nigerian team in Monrovia on September 8.That is because whatever the team list may read, all other efforts will amount to zero, if team members and official are exposed to similar dangers in future encounters.
The reportedly poisoned water deserves no special attention now and all one can say is that the Nigerian Embassy to which it was sent, needs to forward it to Abuja for onward passage to FIFA Headquarters, for comparative laboratory testing exercises. The whole idea is to embark on a world-wide initiative to, this time, combat terrorism in international soccer, using the September 8 Nigeria-Liberia game as a case study on ethical and unethical behavior during competitive soccer competitions.
This is not a matter raised for laughter! Notably, FIFA has done a good job by endorsing and promoting the struggle against racism in soccer. This particular development provides a good reason to broaden that initiative by adopting a “NO TERRORISM IN SOCCER” campaign, soonest possible. All immoral, unfair and uncivilized steps taken by any soccer side or country to secure victory at all costs, amount to unethical practices.
And the fun, pleasure as well as hope of promoting cordial international relations through sports (football in this respect), cannot be advanced in any way, if sanity, on the part of fans, is not restored to the game. Any team that wins any match using such barbaric tactics, ought to be penalized with a ban, and reversal of the so-called victory. We can also keep in view the effects of charms and doping (as in athletics) on the game of football.
It will be interesting what research may later reveal to be the effects of “juju” (or “gri gri” in the francophone world), on soccer. But for now, let us ensure that we keep terrorism out of football and ensure more ethical practices in that noble game in Africa, henceforth. MAIL BAG Pertinent questions on PHCN Thanks for your piece in the Sept. 3 edition of Daily Sun.
You raised very pertinent questions which both the management and staff of PHCN must provide convincing answers to, so that we know who is actually biting Nigerians at the back: PHCN staff or the Power Minister.- From Nwokedi