Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Togo! Togo! Togo!

In what can only be described as a modern day soccer-based soap opera, the story of the Togo national soccer team has been plagued with as much fiction as fact in the last 12 months. The latest is the discovery that a fake squad claiming to be the men’s national team went to Bahrain and competed in a FIFA sanctioned friendly, losing 3-0.

The story starts last December when FIFA stepped in and dissolved the Togo Football Association (FA) due to political unrest and a lack of support from the government. FIFA worked with Togo to install an interim management team to allow for the team to continue to train and compete until the FA was able to hold new elections and formally re-take control of their organization.

On January 8th of this year, as the team was traveling through Angola en route to the Africa Cup of Nations, the team bus came under attack by machine gun fire from a separatist rebel group, killing the assistant coach and two others. The team withdrew from the tourney stating fear of further attacks and they tried to persuade other nations to boycott as well. However, as the incident was investigated it was alleged that the team that was attacked may not have been the actual men’s national team although many international stars were present (Emmanuel Adebayor, Moustapha Salifou). Representatives for the tournament stated that the rules clearly stated that no team should travel or arrive by bus into the country, due to security concerns in neighboring Congo and outlaying parts of Angola. Maybe the players were legitimate, but clearly the management of the squad was in question and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) banned Togo from the next two Cup of Nations.

In July of this year, former Togo manger Tchanile Bana who was a technical director for the interim management team decided to organize a friendly with Egypt without the knowledge or permission of the interim president of the FA. He took a full team of players and made it all the way to Egypt before the FA found out about the stunt and ordered the players back home and Bana to be suspended from his position with the FA for two years.

Apparently suspensions from the Togo FA are about as solid as the paper on which they are written. Fast-forward to this month where everyone’s favorite travel agent, Mr. Bana, decides to take a full squad for a FIFA sanctioned friendly at Bahrain. The details are still sketchy, but what we do know is that Bana falsified numerous documents and signatures that were submitted to the Bahrain FA and FIFA to get the game scheduled for September 7th. A list of 20 players was provided to the hosts weeks before the match was to take place, but shortly before kick-off an list of the 18 players for the match was submitted with none of the players being on the original list. A normally competitive Togo team looked so out of place during the match that Bahrain officials started investigating the issue before the final whistle even blew. It appears Bana brought a group of aspiring players from his soccer academy to Bahrain and attempted to pass them off as the national team. The amazing part is that Bana was able to get the team to Bahrain, compete in the match, and return home before anyone questioned his actions, all this while Bana was supposedly suspended from the FA.

Togo’s soccer federation is set to hold elections on October 16th to replace the interim officials and give the national program a new start. Let’s just hope that nothing else happens between now and then.

1 comment :

  1. Excellent post Admin. Now I have to really think about what I say here ;)
    I think it's important for people to also think about how powerful an effect comments can have, especially for new bloggers. A comment is both a validation that someone has read the content and connected with it - that can inspire someone to continue on interimmanager, or if too negative, make others consider shutting down.
    At any rate, I'll give this more thought but I'm bookmarking this post to share with Friends. Thanks again.


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