That didn’t take long.
A game that began with a group of African gentlemen kicking a soccer ball around a field in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, ended with a bang. Almost literally. Few probably expected a second half that included a helicopter flyover and police officers taking steps to protect Ghanaian players and fans from violence and projectiles tossed by a disgruntled, home Equatoguinean crowd, perturbed by their team’s dismantling at the hands of the Black Stars. But that’s what the gods gave us.
Today, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) fined Equatorial Guinea’s football federation $100,000 for the chaotic scenes that erupted during yesterday’s Africa Cup of Nations semifinal. Turns out, leisurely rioting isn’t one of the perks of being a Cup of Nations host, even when you volunteer to host on relatively short notice after another country backs out at the last minute. And it’s probably safe to assume that there are no “Free rioting” sections in any of the Cup of Nations contracts.
CAF noted that Equatorial Guinea’s fine comes after similar offenses during earlier Cup of Nations matches against Gabon and Tunisia. This round, however, was more serious than previous episodes. Yesterday’s semifinal left 36 people injured, 14 of which, CAF reports, were transferred to hospitals.
In addition to the monetary fine, Equatorial Guinea has to cover the treatment costs for all those injured during the match and has to play its next game behind closed doors. However, CAF’s Disciplinary Panel suspended the closed door game penalty provided that fans don’t repeat their riotous performance during Saturday’s third place match between Equatorial Guinea and DR Congo.
It’s unfortunate. The focus on tomorrow’s third place game may have shifted from field performance to fan performance. If you’re a fan of soccer, that’s a real shame.