Zambia Cancelled Their Friendly Soccer Match Against South Africa Because of Xenophobia
The teams were scheduled to play on Saturday in Zambia.
The Zambian government recently issued a warning to its citizens residing in South Africa, amid violent xenophobic attacks. Now, following pressure from Zambians particularly on social media, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has officially cancelled the friendly match which was supposed to take place on home soil this Saturday against South Africa's Bafana Bafana, according to EWN. Zambians view the cancellation as a sign of protest against the ongoing attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa.
Two months ago, Nigerian foreign nationals were being attacked in South Africa and several had their businesses looted. Barely a week ago, there was another spate of xenophobic attacks in Pretoria which have been renewed in the central parts of Johannesburg. The Chronicle reports that the death toll has now risen to five, with three of the deceased having been confirmed to be South African.
President of the FAZ, Andrew Kamanga, spoke to Marawa Sport Worldwide saying that, "We are more on the football side than political side but unfortunately we had to do something." Kamanga added that, "Look at the scenario whereby the game is playing but there are protests going on either inside or outside the venue. The game is off, and we communicated that to Safa and they understood. We have been talking to try and monitor the situation."
Yesterday, President Cyril Ramaphosa finally ended his silence on what has now become a diplomatic crisis and condemned the xenophobic attacks saying that, "[there is] no justification to blame foreigners for [the] lack of jobs. This must be stopped."
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a special envoy to meet with Ramaphosa and voice his concerns over the safety of Nigerians living in South Africa.