Afcon: Mascot wears bulletproof vest to promote peace in Cameroon
Human rights campaigners have warned that escalating violence in Cameroon would endanger the safety of Premier League stars when the Africa Cup of Nations opens next month. Afcon: The mascot wears a bulletproof vest to promote peace in Cameroon.
The African showcase, which features 24 teams from around the continent and was scheduled to begin on January 9, is likely to be postponed due to the crisis.
More than 40 players from the English Premier League are expected to compete, including Arsenal’s Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe, and Mohamed Elneny; Aston Villa’s Trezeguet; Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy; Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha; Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez; and the Liverpool trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Naby Keita.
Despite mounting concerns that teams and the tournament may be targeted in an increasingly fierce and brutal conflict, there is no indication that the event will be postponed or that arrangements will be altered to mitigate the risk.
The majority of the debate surrounding the event has centered on the elite players’ release date and the potential of a coronavirus pandemic (covid-19). The new lethal omicron is rapidly spreading over the globe.
‘There are growing requests to postpone the AFCON until the warring parties agree to a truce and start peace talks,’ Rebecca Tinsley, a human rights researcher and member of Cameroon’s Global Campaign for Peace and Justice, told Sportsmail.
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This has prompted several governments to require three or four coronavirus vaccinations. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning that the protocols must be followed and that people must continue to get their vaccinations.
Patrice Motsepe, President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), visited with Cameroon President Paul Biya this week and assured him that the tournament will go through as planned.
Human rights organisations, on the other hand, have informed Sportsmail that they believe there is a serious risk to players and staff, and that the tournament should be postponed or, at the very least, matches shifted away from the most dangerous part of the country.
The Afcon is expected to begin on January 9 – February 6, 2022.