CABINDA, Angola – As if the deadly attack this month on Togo's soccer team wasn't enough, now the team has been banned from the next two editions of the tournament -- simply for following its government's orders to return home.
The Togo team pulled out of the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament after the Jan. 8 ambush on the team bus, which killed two members of the team's delegation.
The African Football Confederation's president, Issa Hayatou, said Saturday that the decision to ban the team was based on the "governmental interference" involved in the decision to pull out of the recent competition in Angola, AFP reported.
The decision was met with shock from the world sports community. A BBC sports blogger Piers Edwards called it "simply jaw-dropping," while noting that the soccer federation also "twisted the knife" by fining the team $50,000.
The team's bus was attacked as it passed through the restive Angolan enclave of Cabinda. Oil-rich Cabinda, separated from the rest of Angola by the Democratic Republic of Congo, is embroiled in a long-running independence struggle fueled by the armed wing of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda, or FLEC.
FLEC militants claimed responsibility for the attack, though the bus was not thought to be specifically targeted.
NewsCore contributed to this report.