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Jan 9, 2010

Premier League bosses call for ANC cancellation

Several Premier League bosses have suggested the African Nations Cup should be cancelled after the Togo national football team was attacked by gunfire.

Togo team bus attacked
Adebayor on Togo reaction
Togo boss questions ANC
Carter: Attack did irreparable damage
Paper round: Big shadow over ANC

The country's team bus was attacked by rebels armed with machine guns as they crossed the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo into the Angolan enclave of Cabinda for the tournament, which is due to start on Sunday, leaving the driver dead and two players injured. Manchester City's Emmanuel Adebayor and Aston Villa's Moustapha Salifou were unharmed.

The incident has led to Togo's withdrawal from the tournament, but several leading figures in the Premier League believe the entire competition should be scrapped for safety reasons and Hull boss Phil Brown has even suggested the World Cup in South Africa should be reconsidered.

He said in The Sun: "I am appalled. This throws a question mark against next summer's World Cup. You simply cannot put the safety of players, officials and fans at the slightest risk. That is totally unacceptable.

"I have two players - Daniel Cousin and Seyi Olofinjana - on duty and I want them back home here with us as quickly as possible."

Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie admitted he was very concerned for Nigeria striker Kanu, Ivory Coast forward Aruna Dindane and Algeria duo Nadir Belhadj and Hassan Yebda on Saturday morning.

He told ESPN Soccernet: "It would take an awful lot for FIFA to cancel, and I cannot see it happening, but Togo might pull out as their players are pretty shaken up.

"Let's be honest about this, several players came perilously close to being killed, and that is why we are, naturally, concerned about the safety of our players and all the players out there.

"We are therefore asking our FA about the security and safety of the players. The big concern for FIFA could be the insurance aspect, and that might be something that will make them think about continuing the tournament."

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, who does not have any players at the competition, has also urged organisers to consider a cancellation.

"It's frightening," he said. "I agree it's worth considering calling the whole thing off. We can't just sit around and wait for the next shooting."

Elsewhere, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has also revealed he is concerned for the safety of his players - Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast) and Seydou Keita (Mali) - participating in the tournament.

"We are trying [to contact Toure and Keita]," Guardiola told El Mundo. "They are obliged to know the level of danger. Human life and everyone's safety is the most important thing of all."

Despite the calls, Angolan minister of youth and sports Goncalves Muandumba has insisted his country is committed to hosting a secure tournament and said they would step up security.

"We are going to redouble our efforts," he told BBC Radio. "We are going to further reinforce all the mechanisms and continue to guarantee security and to create all the conditions which guarantee the success and organisation of the African Nations Cup. It was an unfortunate incident and we will find those responsible."

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) held an emergency meeting on Friday night and released a statement discussing "decisions to guarantee the smooth running of the competition".

The statement read: "The Confederation of African Football condemned the attack against the Togolese delegation convoy heading to Cabinda from Congo. The Angolan Football Association president, who is also the director general of the Local Organising Committee, Mr Justino Fernandes, informed the CAF Executive Committee that the incident happened 10 kilometres within the Angolan territory.

"The Angolan authority deployed immediately a team down there to assess the exact situation. According to the information provided by the director general, all injured people were taken to a hospital in Cabinda. On Saturday morning, 9 January 2010, an important delegation headed by the Angolan Minister on Internal Affairs, Ministers of Youth and Sports, members from the Prime Minister's office as well as a powerful delegation from CAF will be in Cabinda.

"The Angolan Prime Minister will meet CAF president Mr Issa Hayatou to take decisions to guarantee the smooth running of the competition. The Confederation of African Football is terribly saddened by these events and expresses its total support as well as sympathy to the entire Togolese delegation."

CAF has questioned why Togo were travelling by road rather than flying.

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