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Shame and Outrage in Algeria After Cameroon Footballer Albert Ebossé Is Killed by an Object Tossed from the Stands

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Algeria, Cameroon, Citizen Media, Sport
A screenshot of Cameroonian striker for JSK Kabylie Albert Ebossé  scroring a goal.

A screenshot of Cameroonian striker for JSK Kabylie Albert Ebossé scroring a goal.

Albert Dominique Ebossé Bodjongo Dika, a 25-year-old Cameroonian footballer who played for Algerian club JS Kabylie [1], died [2] on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, after being hit by an object thrown from the stands following his team’s loss to rivals USM Alger [3]. According to a statement [4] by the prosecutor in the city of Tizi Ouzo, Ebossé died from internal bleeding caused by a blunt and sharp-edged object.

His death elicited a flood of condolences for his family and condemnations of the fans’ behavior. Mahfoud Kerbadj, president of the Algerian football league, described [5] Ebossé’s death as a disaster for Algerian football. A statement [6] from Issa Hayatou, president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), called for swift action against the perpetrators.

The YouTube video [7] below shows goals scored by Ebossé in the Algerian league:

In a letter [8] to the Algerian Football Federation, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter wrote that Ebossé's death at the hands of a spectator was “intolerable.” Joseph Owona, president of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT), described the footballer's death as an “appalling event…a gruesome and cowardly act” in a condolence message [9] to Ebossé’s family.  

Meanwhile, the National Syndicate of Cameroon Footballers (SYNAFOC) of which Ebossé was a member also released a statement [10] in French:

Le Syndicat National des Footballeurs Camerounais (SYNAFOC) exprime son indignation et condamne avec la dernière énergie cet acte ignoble, tenté d’une barbarie machiavélique qui a coûté la vie – sur un terrain de football – à l’un de ses membres.

The National Syndicate of Cameroon Footballers (SYNAFOC) expresses in the strongest terms its outrage and condemnation of this despicable act tainted with Machiavellian cruelty that took the life – on a football field – of one of its members.

SYNAFOC called for calm particularly among Cameroonian footballers in Algeria and promised to do everything in its powers to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice.

Widespread outrage over Ebossé’s senseless death was on full display on social media. Maryse Éwanjé-Epée, a former French and European high jump champion, vented [11] on her Facebook page:

Mort pour sa passion… il rêvait, comme beaucoup de jeunes camerounais de jouer dans le championnat européen… Je ne suis que colère, rage même face à cette indicible violence qui n'intéresse personne ou presque. Des jeux et du pain… Et que continue le spectacle!

He died for his passion… like many young Cameroonians, he dreamed of playing in a European league… I am angry and raging against this unspeakable violence which seems to interest practically no one. Bread and circuses… let the show continue!

Jonathan Fadugba, editor of the Just Football blog, could not come to terms with the manner in which Ebossé died:

Another Twitter user, @heritierduroi, had a thought for Ebosse’s newborn baby:

Because of human stupidity a child will grow up without a father. Albert Ebosse recently became a father

Expectedly, Algeria and Algerians found themselves at the center of the international outcry. Kamel Daoud, columnist at the French-language Quotidien d’Oran newspaper, shared [15] his feelings of remorse on his Facebook page:

Mots brisés. J’ai beaucoup dit depuis des années. Là, j'ai la langue morte. Ma nationalité est une odeur mauvaise dans les parfums du monde. Honte.

Shattered words. I have said a lot over the years. But in this case, I am tongue-tied. My [Algerian] nationality emits a nasty odor among the perfumes of the world. Shame.

Zinedine Ferhat, who plays for USM Alger and the Algeria national team, was beside himself:

No desire to resume the league after the death of #Ebosse! #Disgusted. Our lives are worth more than this rubbish.

Then he followed up with an apology to the Cameroonian people:

On behalf of all Algerians, I ask for forgiveness from our Cameroonian brothers! Allah Yerahmou! #Ebosse #Sad #Disgusted.

For Hamza Bencherif, an Algerian professional footballer who plays for Lincoln City in England, Ebossé’s death was personal:

Reacting to the flurry of anti-Algerian comments on social media, Twitter user Beghdad Meliza urged the public to be more discerning:

Stop saying that Ebossé’s death is due to a racist act. He was the supporters’ favorite player. He was our savior.

Another Twitter user, Mohand Yahiaoui, agreed:

There was nothing racist about it. We see this type of behavior at every league game. Unfortunately, it was fatal for the late Ebossé this time around.

The Algerian Ministry of Interior has opened [31] an investigation into Ebossé’s death, while Algerian football authorities have announced [32]that they are donating about 100,000 euros to his family, along with his full salary until his contract with JK Kabylie runs out. While waiting for the outcome of the investigation, public sentiment is best reflected in this tweet by Jonathan Fadugba: