Africa Cup of Nations game turns into a ‘war zone’

Helicopters and riot police armed with tear gas were called to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final match on Thursday evening amid scenes that the Ghana Football Association (FA) called a “war zone.”

Trouble began at half-time in the football (soccer) game between Ghana and Equatorial Guinea in the latter’s capital city of Malabo.

With Ghana 2-0 up, and some of Equatorial Guinea’s supporters unhappy with a few of the referee’s decisions, Ghana’s players were pelted with plastic bottles as they left the pitch. They were protected by riot police holding up plastic shields.

“We are lucky that we haven’t lost any lives, though people have sustained various degrees of injuries arising from objects thrown at them,” Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi told BBC World Service.

“This has been a very successful tournament, and this isolated incident of violence will leave a slur on the reputation of African football,” he added. “A high-profile game of this nature should have attracted policemen, intelligence officers and military.

“I couldn’t have counted 50 policemen at the stadium,” Nyantakyi said. “The rest were from Angola, who were not familiar with the terrain, so they didn’t know how to handle the situation. So the Ghanaian fans were left at the mercy of these violent fans.”

When play finally resumed, Ghana sealed a 3-0 win. They’ll play Ivory Coast in Sunday’s final.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.