'Players at AFCON will be in real danger'

World News

With the Africa Cup of Nations set to kick off next month, a warning has been issued about the safety of players amid political unrest in some parts of Cameroon. 

The lead-up to AFCON 2021 has been riddled with controversy as various organisations have called for the postponement of the continental showpiece, citing numerous concerns including the COVID-19 pandemic, the reluctance of Europe's elite clubs to release players, and now violence in parts of Cameroon. 

Scroll through the gallery below to see some of the biggest stars expected to take part in the upcoming AFCON

This week, Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe held a meeting with Cameroon president Paul Biya, in which it was reportedly agreed that the tournament would go ahead as planned. 

However, with rising political tensions in key areas of the host nation – including in Limbe, where six group matches are set to take place – human rights researcher Rebecca Tinsley has now expressed grave concern regarding the competition and its participants. 

"There are now mounting calls to delay the AFCON competition until the warring parties call for a ceasefire and enter peace negotiations," Tinsley, who is also a member of the Global Campaign for Peace and Justice in Cameroon, said, per the Daily Mail. 

"We are saying postpone the tournament because all of this threat could be removed if the government just said, 'Yes, we will have peace talks.'  

"... There is a real risk of… attacks in all AFCON venues, especially in Limbe."

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It is further reported that there is a possibility that 16 of the participating 24 teams could be at risk as their matches will be held in two other venues neighbouring the regions where there is currently violent conflict.

As such, Tinsley has also warned English teams about releasing their stars for the tournament.  

"English clubs should be really cautious about sending their players into a very unstable situation. There are real dangers," she added.

"You only have to look at the record of the armed militias and separatist groups. They have exploded more than 80 improvised explosive devices and they are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their tactics. 

"This should alarm any football club thinking of sending players into the region."

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