CAF’s decision to ban Togo is shocking
I love football like everyone else, but the disturbing news is CAF decision to ban Togo from taking part in the next two African Cup of Nations Tournaments. I have been stretching the news and reports in all directions to work out how somebody could ultimately use the events as they unfolded to arrive at such a judgement. And there is nothing out there to validate the decision, other than CAF trying to be unnecessarily antagonistic and mean to the government and the people of Togo.
Togo's government withdrew the national team from the tournament after the terror attack resulting in the death of two of their members. The players among themselves resolved to carry on with the tournament but the government insisted it's over and asked everybody to come home and take part in the burial of the dead. So where did Togo err? CAF argument is that the government faulted its rule of non-interference. A provision which provides that government of member states desist from meddling in purely football matters.
But this is where it all get awkward, taking in to account the specifics of this case.
How do you square a non-interference with a government's decision to back out of a tournament and ask her contingent to return home with a section of the team dead. Even if you put emotion aside, you would have expected CAF to know that the situation Togo found herself in Angola exceeded the frontiers of ordinary football.
Those social misfits attacked Togo's National team not because they have got anything against Togo but to put themselves on the political agenda that they also do matters. Togo as a state has the right under international law to protect the people of Togo whether at home or abroad. What the government did is to simply exercise that right.
How would the people of Togo perceive their government if they had not taken the team home and there was second attack like the rebels promised? You can always argue that that is hypothetical but that is what good management is all about. You have to consider all possible situations and make provisions for them.
The resolution to get the team home was to guarantee the safety and the lives of the remaining contingent. That decision cannot be questioned.
CAF may want us to think that they were only sticking by the rule but the rule of law also means that the rules be applied in all fairness. Besides, the law like the textbooks say is organic. Its object is to serve the need of society not put the vulnerable in misery. If they value the law and the operation of the law, perhaps Togo's unique experience is an opportunity to mend their rule book taking into account the question of security and what they mean by non-interference.
And you can't equally blame Togo's national team like a section of the report tried to make us believe that they failed to follow security protocol. Football like we all know is played in an atmosphere of fun and enthusiasm not gun shuts. If Togo knew everything about the security dynamics of the region and the proximity they stood to physical death they might as well decided not to travel to Angola in the first place.
My suspicion is that after a near escape from absolute disaster – because the other states could have removed their teams for the same security reasons – CAF is out trying to save some pride and make the rest of the world feel it has a stronger grip over African football.
With no intention to take anything away from the people of Angola for their effort in staging the championship, but was it CAF idea to stage the 2010 Nations Cup in a country they had all the information that it had a serious underlining security issues? So if the tournament had run into the wall with a security setback, why are they trying to make to Togo feel evil? The decision that the Togo government took is a natural decision that any other government would take given the same scenario.
Immediately after the Togo issue came up in Angola, the sceptics jumped forward trying to question Africa's readiness to host the world cup. Sure, Africa is ready to host the World Cup and South Africa would do it. What CAF need to do is to pay particular attention to the security details and leave Togo alone. The people of Togo need peace of mind to get back into the game we all love.