Anti-government protests in Sudan Could Threaten African Soccer Tournament


Anti-government protests sweeping the Arab world expanded into Sudan on Sunday, threatening the second African Cup of Nations for Home-Based Players (CHAN2011), scheduled to kick off on February 4.

Officials of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) are closely monitoring developments in Sudan after police beat and arrested students demanding the resignation of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir. Officials said privately they saw as of this writing no reason for the tournament to be cancelled.

CAF concern however is fuelled by mass protests in Egypt, with which Sudan is closely linked, that have already forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to appoint a new government and that are gunning for an end to his 30-year rule.

The Sudanese protests were inspired by the revolt in Egypt as well as mass protests in Tunisia that earlier this month ousted President Zine Abedine Ben Ali.

The student demonstrations coincided with the first announcement of the results of a referendum that is likely to see the cessation of the oil-rich southern part of Sudan from the rest of the country.

Uganda threatens meanwhile to become a casualty of the turmoil engulfing Egypt. Officials of the Federation of Ugandan Football Federations (FUFA) say the Egyptian turmoil has put into jeopardy the Ugandan national team’s preparations for the African Cup.

FUFA had expected to fund the preparations with $125,000 in prize money the national team earned earlier this month by ending second in the inaugural Nile Basin tournament that Egypt had organized prior to the eruption of the anti-Mubarak protests.

Egypt beat Uganda 3-1 in the final of the competition initiated by the Egyptian government to foster better relations among Nile Basin countries strained by disputes over water rights.

FUFA officials told Ugandan news website New Vision that Egypt was supposed to wire the prize money last week.

“With the current political changes taking place in Egypt, we are worried about the availability of the money,” New Vision quoted a FUFA official as saying. 

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