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Aug. 25 (GIN)—Soccer star Albert Ebosse Bodjongo of Cameroon was killed almost instantly by a stone lobbed from the bleachers in the Tizi Ouzou stadium of north-central Algeria this weekend. He had been playing for the home team and made its only goal before the stone-throwing incident occurred.
The Algerian Football/Soccer Federation lamented the death of the 24-year-old Ebosse and urged that soccer be suspended indefinitely at all stadiums in the country.
Ebosse was the leading scorer in the Algerian league in the 2013-14 season with 17 goals. Nonetheless, he became a target when fans of the home team, which lost 2-1, began throwing objects as the players headed off the field.
According to Algeria’s Al Watan newspaper, “For years now, violence has crept into the stadiums and spills onto the streets, bringing with it a climate of fear and insecurity.”
An investigation into Ebosse’s death, and a deeper inquiry into soccer hooliganism in the country in general, has been ordered by the Algerian interior ministry. But the incident is believed to present evidence of growing racism among Algeria’s majority white population, according to online debates at media sites.
“FIFA doesn’t give a damn about Black players,” declared “Bob+Jazz,” a reader of Cameroon Online from Canada. “They won’t do a thing. Look at the racism Black players face everyday in Europe, what sanctions has FIFA ever given to any European club to discourage it? If this had happened to a white player, you will hear it on CNN 24/7.”
“Stone thrown from the club’s own fans, even when he scored a goal,” wrote “Sameboy” on the same site. “That should tell you how Blacks out there have to work 100x to achieve the fame whites enjoy. It’s a pity … We need follow up and not just words.”
Black African refugees from embattled countries south of the Sahara have also faced hostility in Algeria, especially from the media. A front-page article in the Arabic daily Al-Fadjr warned of “thousands of Africans invading the streets of the capital, spreading epidemics and other social ills such as trafficking in counterfeit money.”
On the other side, Ali, a retired teacher, told the AFP news agency how he bemoaned the “lack of humanity” of his fellow Algerians and the “racism” of parts of the media.
Sociology professor Fatma Oussedik, in another AFP interview, said the mounting racism showed by Algerians towards fellow Africans from south of the Sahara smacked of a crisis of identity in the continent’s largest country.
“When we hear Algerians speaking about Africans, we find ourselves asking where in the world we are,” she said. “This rejection of the other, it’s a kind of self-denial.”