Algeria v Egypt rivalry should be in FIFA’s line-of-fire
November 17, 2009
So here we are, one day away from revealing the final line-up for next summer’s World Cup. There are some massive European matches, including Ireland’s trip to France and Portugal’s visit to Bosnia- Herzegovinia. However, the most explosive game looks like being the play-off for the final African spot between Egypt and Algeria.
Algeria and Egypt have a rivalry stretching back many years, with both players and supporters engaging in acts of violence before and after the games. Indeed, ahead of the first game between the two sides on Saturday, three Algerian players were injured when the coach they were travelling on was stoned by Egyptian fans as it entered Cairo.
This led to a call by Algerian player Khaled Lemmouchia for the match to be postponed, which is a fair request in my opinion, and demonstrates the crazy nature of football in Africa. Can you imagine the outrage if three England players were injured by supporters ahead of a match?
In a fixture which has previously seen players rioting, a broken bottle literally removing another player’s eye, and countless episodes of fan trouble, tomorrow night’s match promises fireworks. However, FIFA once again seem to be pretty quiet on one of the real issues of the world game.
With the World Cup set to be played in Africa next year, the issue of football violence on the continent should be at the forefront of FIFA’s agenda. Player and supporter safety should be paramount, as it is all around the rest of the world. Instead, FIFA have simply requested written guarantees that players will be safe.
Fortunately, the game is to be played on neutral territory as it will be taking place in Sudan. However, there are still tensions in both countries ahead of the match, and these tensions have been compared to a ‘military conflict’ between the two nations.
I sincerely hope that the match is a thrilling affair and passes by without any violence. I really hope my fears over this fixture are misguided, and that FIFA’s somewhat relaxed attitude is proved to be the right cause of action. Indeed, I want nothing more than to see a fantastic advert for African football.
However, excuse me if I don’t hold my breath.