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Togo banned from next two Africa Cups of Nations


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Togo have been banned from the next two Africa Cup of Nations following their withdrawal from this year's tournament.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) also fined the Hawks $50,000 for quitting the competition in the wake of a gun attack on the team bus in Angola.

Two members of their delegation were killed in the ambush, which occurred on 8 January, two days before the start of the tournament.

The Togo government is furious over the decision, threatening legal action.

"This is a surprise decision and it means that people (Caf) have no consideration for the lives of other human beings," Togo Interior Minister Pascal Bodjona told BBC Sport.

"This is insulting to the family of those who lost their lives and those traumatised because of the attack.

"We had two people dead and others suffered so if those people at Caf had any consideration for others I don't think at this time this is a reasonable decision.

"We are awaiting the official notification and we are going to take legal action to resolve the matter."

World football governing body Fifa declined to comment on the ban.

A statement from Caf read: "The executive committee has banned Togo from the next two African Nations Cup and fined the Togo FA 50,000 U.S. dollars."

A Togolese assistant coach and a press officer died following the ambush on their bus in the northern Angolan province of Cabinda on 8 January, prompting the government to recall the team for three days of mourning.

The Hawks initially wanted to compete in Group B with Ivory Coast, Ghana and Burkina Faso, but quit on 10 January - the tournament's start date - on 10 January on their national government's orders.

But African football's governing body says the decision to pull the team out amounted to governmental interference in the sport.

"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," Caf explained in its statement.

"The decision by political authorities contravenes Caf and African Nations Cup regulations."

Togo midfielder Thomas Dossevi, who was on the bus when it came under fire minutes after it crossed the Angolan border from Pointe Noire, Congo, said Togo should appeal against the ban.

"We are a group of footballers who came under fire and now we can't play football any more. They are crushing us," Dossevi said.

"Togo should appeal the suspension. When we said we were going home for a three-day mourning they said they were with us in this ordeal and now they punish us."

Meanwhile, the families of the assistant coach and the press officer were taking legal action against the Caf and the Angolan state, their lawyer said.

"We are taking legal action because our compatriots were killed because of the mistakes of the Confederation of African Football (and) its president Mr Issa Hayatou," lawyer Alexis Aquereburu said.

"(The legal claim is) also against the Angolan state for putting in danger the life of our compatriots by organising this African Nations Cup in a war zone."

The armed wing of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), embroiled in a decades-long separatist struggle, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The FLEC has fought a 30-year war against Angola's government for independence.

One grievance is that Cabindans see little of the money from oil that comes from their land.

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Banning a team because they withdrew for their own safery? that's just low. If the rest of the team had been gunned down, these jerks would have had some explaining to do.

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Crazy - they should put the people who made this decision on a bus and shoot at them and see how they like it! If proper safety can't be assured teams should have every right to withdraw.

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Outrageous.

If that were a team like England, or (more closely related) an African team like South Africa, there is 1: no way that CAF would ban them because they are a big draw and 2: the international community, FIFA included, would be in uproar.

Fair enough if it was just a case of petulant players/managers etc but two innocent people were killed and the rest were in fear for their lives. I'm disgusted.

Nothing meant by use of England there, referenced just cos they are a big nation in football.

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