The African Football Confederation (CAF), the governing body of African football, has announced its decision to ban Togo from the next two tournaments.
Togo pulled out of the competition following the horrific gun attack on the team bus as they travelled to their base camp in Angola. The team were officially disqualified from the tournament when they failed to show up for their opening game against Ghana, who play in Sunday’s final.
CAF have made their decision on the basis that the players had said they wanted to participate in the tournament, but were ordered to withdraw by the Togolese government.
"The players publicly expressed their willingness to return to the Nations Cup to compete. But the Togo government decided to call back their national team," the statement by CAF reads.
"The decision by political authorities contravenes CAF and African Nations Cup regulations. The executive committee therefore has banned Togo from the next two African Nations Cup and fined the Togo FA 50,000 U.S. dollars."
Meanwhile, Issa Hayatou, president of the CAF elaborated: "The Executive Committee (CAF) has suspended Togo for two African Cup of Nations. It is a statutory sanction. There was an interference by the Togolese government, and that we cannot accept."
The first thing that strikes me about this announcement is the absolutely farcical logic behind it: "How dare you stop a team playing? We think that is wrong! So, we will do the same...only for two tournaments. After all, anything you can do..."
It’s a ludicrous decision, CAF may well have a point about government interference, but this isn’t the solution. Banning a team because someone stopped them from playing is stupid. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
The other stunningly stupid aspect of this announcement is the timing. Ghana and Egypt play in the final of the tournament tomorrow, why did CAF have to make to make this announcement now?
Surely the tournament should be about football, Africa and the world should be looking forward to a showpiece event tomorrow. Now we’re being distracted by puerile squabbling, it’s not about Togo’s government, it’s not about CAF, it should be about Egypt and Ghana.
It’s also stupid that Togo’s players are being punished for a decision by the Togolese government. A $50,000 fine is nothing compared to being denied an opportunity to play in the next two tournaments.
What were they thinking?