SWITZERLAND, SEPTEMBER 6 – Madagascar has joined Zambia in calling off a football match against South Africa in the wake of xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg and Pretoria.On Wednesday, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) pulled out of hosting South Africa’s “Bafana Bafana” in Lusaka Saturday, citing “prevailing security concerns.
“The South African Football Association (SAFA) turned to Madagascar for a hastily arranged friendly in Orlando on the eastern edge of Johannesburg.But the Bafana Bafana Twitter page said Thursday the game would no longer take place.”SAFA regrets to inform the public that the match between Bafana Bafana and Madagascar scheduled for this coming Saturday (7 September) has been called off after the visitors (Madagascar) decided to withdraw from the encounter,” the statement read.
SAFA spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said the players and staff were “shocked” by the news and were “still figuring out what to do next.””Apparently [Madagascar] were on their way to the airport when they received a call from the government telling them that they were not allowed to board the plane for South Africa,” Chimhavi said.
“Naturally this is upsetting for all involved.”Chimhavi suggested recent events in South Africa must have played a part in Madagascar’s decision.”I think we both can guess why they’ve done this,” he said. “It is pretty obvious what is happening in South Africa.”In a statement on its Facebook page, the Malagasy Federation of Football said it was “honored” to be considered to play South Africa but after consultation with various agencies in the country it was deemed “wise” to decline the invitation on security grounds.
Violence erupted in the South African capital Pretoria last week following the shooting of a local taxi driver, allegedly by a foreign drug dealer.This incident proved to be the spark in an already volatile environment. Anti-foreign sentiments from politicians and public officials have fostered ill feelings between South Africans and African migrants competing for meager opportunities in the most unequal country on the planet.
On Monday, a pamphlet attributed to a group called the Sisionke Peoples Forum circulate circulated on social media and accused foreigners living in South Africa of stealing jobs and selling drugs.”We condemn what is happening,” Chimhavi said. “We are proud to represent Africa on the pitch and to play against our African brothers in continental tournaments. We call for an end to the violence and destruction.”At least 189 people have been arrested in connection to looting and assault while five people have reportedly been killed.