In Africa's media, politics and football are the normal obsessions—and football is just an aspect of politics. Via Vanguard, an AFP report: West Africa battles Ebola sporting quarantine. Excerpt:
The widening Ebola virus crisis has caused sporting chaos with Sierra Leone having to field all players from outside the country in the African Cup of Nations to avoid a growing quarantine.
Many African governments have sought a shield aound Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia which have been the worst hit countries, accounting for nearly all the 1,552 reported dead so far.
And as the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that up to 20,000 cases of the uncurable virus could be reported, more restrictions are expected ahead of the Nations Cup finals in Morocco from January 17.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has ordered Sierra Leone and Guinea to play their Nations Cup qualifying games on neutral territory.
CAF experts and the WHO warned “to avoid huge gatherings of people that could facilitate the spread of the Ebola virus,” CAF media director Junior Binyam told AFP.
Binyam insisted that no qualifying game was under threat. The games are becoming increasingly difficult to organise however.
Sierra Leone has a doubt over their first Group D game against Ivory Coast scheduled for September 6.
The Ivory Coast government is refusing to allow the game in Abidjan and the country’s federation has still not announced a country ready to play host. The CAF could sanction Ivory Coast if the game does not go ahead.
The Seychelles forfeited a preliminary round Nations Cup tie against Sierra Leone in July because their government refused to allow the game.
Sierra Leone’s home game against Democratic Republic of Congo on September 10 will now be held in the Ghana capital, Accra. Cameroon are also in the group.
“The entire Sierra Leone squad will be made up of professional players from overseas so they would not require any ebola clearance,” said Chris Kamara, secretary general of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA).