African Football: A Chronology Of Tragedies On And Off The Field Of Play

Professional football as a competitive sport has had its unfair share of tragedies over the years. Apart from tragedies on the field of play, spectators have not been spared also.

Africa’s darkest day in soccer, perhaps remains the plane crash of April 27, 1993, when 18 members of the Zambian national team and 12 technical and crew members perished when their plane plunged into the sea off the coast of Gabon.

Tragedy cuts across continents, and that fact was confirmed during a League match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirate. A stampede at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg resulted in the deaths of 43 people, the worst disaster in South Africa’s sporting history.

Africa again witnessed another sporting tragedy when a local League match between Lupopo and TP Mazembe on the 30th of April 2001, led to the death of 14 people during a stampede following crowd trouble at a major league match at city of Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Nigerian sporting family witnessed one of the most horrific football tragedies on the 23rd of December 2008, when nine female amateur footballers and two coaches were burnt to death in an auto crash on their way from Jos, Plateau state.

The tears of sorrow had hardly dried up, when 15 members of an amateur team, F.C Jimeta from Adamawa state, Nigeria, died in another auto crash on the 26th of January 2009.

Twelve of the dead were players, while the remaining three were trainers.

Severe heat and overcrowding resulted in the death of 4 football fans at a Ghanaian League match between Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oaks in Kumasi on Sunday 8th February, 2009.

On the 21st of February 2009, 13 Football supporters of Nigeria Premier League side Ocean Boys F.C of Yenegoa were killed by persons suspected to be cultist, on their way to attending a premier league match involving their team and Bayelsa United at the Ughelli Township Stadium in Delta State, Nigeria.

Tragedy struck at the Stade Felix Houphout-Boigny stadium in Abidjan, when Cote d’ivoire played host to Malawi, as 22 football fans were crushed to death when a fence collapsed as they tried to gain entry into the already jammed packed stadium, during a 2010 World Cup Qualifier.

Footballers are not also spared of these tragedies, which oftentimes occur either on or off the field of play.

Below is a list of African footballers who have died on the field of play.

  • Samuel Okwaraji(Nigeria)- died of heart attack on August 12, 1989
  • Amir Angwe(Nigeria)- died of heart attack on October 29, 1995
  • George Iginewari(Nigeria)- died of gunshot wound in 1995
  • Tunde Charity(Nigeria)- died of head injury in 1997
  • Emmanuel Nwanegbo(Nigeria)- died of heart failure on August 30, 1997
  • Shamo Quaye(Ghana)- died while training with team on November 30, 1997
  • John Ikoroma(Nigeria)- died of heart attack on February 2000
  • Charles Esheko(Nigeria)- died of cardiac arrest on July 14, 2001
  • Marc-Vivien Fo(Cameroon)- died of heart attack on June 26, 2003
  • Sam Okoye(Nigeria)- died after a brief illness on August 2005
  • Chaswe Nsofwa(Zambia)- died of heart failure on August 29, 2007
  • Guy Tchingoma(Congo DR)- died of heart related ailment on February 9, 2009
  • George Katete(Congo DR)- died of heart attack on March 5th 2009
  • Orobosa Adun(Nigeria)- slumped and died on May 26, 2009
  • Endurance Idahor(Nigeria)- died of attack on March 13, 2010

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English League Is the Best Among Football Leagues

In every football-playing country, there is a league system. The most competent clubs play in the top division league. The sport being the most popular one in the world, top-tier football leagues are watched by the crazy fans from all over the globe. In fact, the most exciting league matches find the highest number of viewers. These five leagues are as follows:

· Barclays Premier League

· Spanish League or La Liga

· Italian League or Serie A

· German League or Bundesliga

· French League or Ligue 1

Among these five leagues, Barclays Premier League is considered the most exciting one. A decade ago or so, Serie A was widely considered the most competitive league in the world. However, things have changed over the last few years since Manchester United lost their monopoly. The Red Devils – Man U are often referred to as their famous nickname – were simply unstoppable under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson. Once their golden era is over, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal are some of the big names dominating the English Premier League landscape.

This 2015-16 season, Leicester City have emerged as the Premier League champions. Premier League is no longer predictable like what we have been watching in Serie A or Bundesliga where Juventus and Bayern Munich have been champions for several years in a row. In addition to the above-specified names, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Southampton are other big names in the first-division English League. Tottenham have finished their campaign second on the league table. Chelsea have suffered a lot and failed to make a great start to the last campaign. It led to sacking of their manager Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea or the Blues managed to drive themselves back from their woeful run under manager Guus Hiddink but due to their earlier drop, they failed to break into the top four. According to reports, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are among the 20 wealthiest clubs in the world. These leagues are most televised in a number of countries. The TV rights earn the clubs millions of pound. The prize money earned by the league winner is the best in any country. The players earn the most attractive wages that can be offered in any league.

History of English League

English League has become the giant one after starting as a small one in the 19th century. They have also earned success in the European competition. Years ago, the star players from Brazil and Argentina used to prefer playing in the Serie A or La Liga. They did not think twice to snub offers from Premier League in order to show their skill in other countries. The story is completely different now. Both the Brazilian and Argentinean players now love to ply their trade in the Premier League. In fact, the star players from several football-playing countries are now eager to prove themselves in England.

English football league is marked by both pace and skill. Every year, a new club wins the Premier League title and that makes the charm of watching the league alive.

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Lionel Messi – The Greatest Footballer Ever?

The footballing world watched on in utter amazement and delight yesterday as Messi’s Barcelona put 7 goals past a hapless Bayer Leverkusen side in a UEFA Champions League game at the Nou Camp. For the first time ever, we saw one person score 5 goals in a Champions league game and it so happened to be no other person than Lionel Messi.

Yes, the number of goals may be a new record which I think he can better in the years ahead, but it’s more the manner and the sheer class with which he scored the goals that made many a football enthusiast admire this rare talent that has emerged in this generation.

Of course, we all knew about his ability already but his display yesterday has put him in another League. The way in which he made the difficult act of scoring spectacular goals look so easy was just a joy to watch. One was a left foot lob, another a delightful right foot lob, then a careful control from an acute angel, a laser-guided placement with his left foot and then a drive through a number of opposing players. His unique sense of picking the right moments in games to do what he does best is simply quite extraordinary.

He has often been compared with the Legendary Pele and his fellow country man Diego Maradona as to who is the greatest player ever but I will dare to say that even these legends will secretly admit that it’s just a matter of time before this boy from the backside of Rosario, Argentina supersedes their achievements if he hasn’t already done so. Considering the fact that Messi is only 24 years of age and has at least 10 years of top flight football in him, the prospect of what he could achieve can be incredible.

It’s almost inconceivable that the world would never have seen what happened yesterday had it not been for the Barcelona scouts who intervened to save his career when he was being given up on. River Plate, one of the biggest clubs in the Argentine First Division who wanted to sign him from Newell Old Boys Club in Rosario, soon discovered that his inability to endure playing for 90 minutes was due to the absence of a growth hormone that hindered his normal physical development as a person. He looked so tiny for his age at the time that, they were not sure if he could develop physically to meet the demands of the modern game even though his talent was never in dispute. The money needed to put him on a special dieting programme was just too much they couldn’t afford it. They gave up on him but thankfully, he was spotted and taken to Barcelona’s La Masia’s training academy and the rest, they say, is history.

Talking about humble beginnings, his first contract was signed on a white handkerchief because his Dad was so frustrated with the directors of Barcelona at the time due to their indecision about his son’s future that, he gave Charles Rexach, the Director of football at the time a brief window of opportunity to make up his mind. Either they give him an answer there and then or forget about Messi forever once they fly back to Argentina. His exploits today has proven that it doesn’t matter where you begin in life but rather, it’s about you believing in your unique abilities and giftings given to you by God regardless of your size, age, race or gender.

As great as the current Barcelona team is at the moment, it is my firm conviction that if you pluck Messi out of this team, they would not have achieved as much as they have. He brings a certain quality to the team which puts them way above any other team at the moment. When games are tight, he is the only one that can come up with some special instinctive play capable of breaking down opposing teams whereby creating opportunities to score goals.

The flip side of the above argument is that, even the greatest players will find it very difficult to perform at their optimum when they are either surrounded by mediocre players or the team they find themselves in doesn’t play to their strengths. This may well be the reason why he is yet to hit the same dizzy heights with the Argentine National Team as he’s done time and time again with his Club side.

With all that he’s achieve so far, hearing him speak just makes you believe why he may go on to accomplish much more. He seems to exude this important virtue of humility which is vital not only to help get you to the top of your game but more importantly, to stay there. There isn’t any air of «superstardom» about him. His lifestyle is just simple, both on and off the pitch. I’m yet to hear any news about Messi involved in any «off the pitch» incidents that you so often associate with English Premiership players. He just seems to enjoy playing in huge stadia as much as he did when he played on the streets of Rosario.

So is he the greatest player ever? The legendary Pele seems to think he is the best by far in the world at the moment. Most football Managers, fellow professionals and the football community at large seem to think he is the best ever even though he’s yet to lead Argentina to Word Cup glory. I would not dispute that either. I think we haven’t seen the best of him yet. He is simply sublime.

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