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When Ebola meets Soot in a friendly by Jide Olaniran


“Kailahun district, Sierra Leone July 2014
During an Ebola virus disease outbreak in Sierra Leone.

What is friendly in a game that is most likely to awry, is the Nigeria Football Federation using football to get away with murder in the country,why are they adamant on this friendly game? So many question as the clock ticks for the Adokie Amasiamaka Stadium clash.

The international friendly game between Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo to be played in PortHarcourt on Monday has drawn a lot of flak from concerned Nigerians who think it is an open invitation to a national disaster.

Inspite of assurances from the Ministry of Health that health officials have manned various entry point into the country.

There’s been an ebola outbreak in  DR Congo since April,it started in the rural areas but the latest now is that cases of infection are recorded in Urban areas that is  largely populated.

According to an official of WHO Peter Salama who is in charge of emergency response, the Ebola outbreak has a clear potential to expand after news broke that three people infected with the deadly virus fled a local hospital.

“We are on the epidemiological knife edge,”

“It could go either way over the next few weeks and we are working around the clock to make sure it (goes) in the right direction,” he told AFP.

Twenty-seven people have reportedly died since the outbreak in April.

Although,it was reported that President of the Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick said there is no cause for alarm because they are monitoring the situation,as the ebola crisis in DRC is not a cogent reason to cancel the friendly.

In other words the friendly is sacrosanct despite other factors pointing otherwise.

Port Harcourt once beaten

Nigeria once had ebola crisis in 2014 which affected two major cities Lagos and Port harcourt where casualities were recorded in Portharcourt for instance a medical doctor Iyke Samuel Enemuo died and another lady who was admitted into the same ward he was being treated while some members of the medical doctor’s family were lucky to survived the disease.

It is yet to be seen whether the state government has learnt anything from hindsight.

What about the soot 

But for political correctness and financial patronage,the issue of the black soot invading Port Harcourt on a daily basis should have been a consideration for staging an international friendly that will attract national and global audience.

The health of players who are coming from countries where there is zero tolerance for pollution should have been considered but the Football Federation those not think it is an issue going into a massive tournament like the World Cup.

It has been established that soot causes cancer and lung disease and maybe the second biggest human cause of global warming.

The level of media attention the issue of soot in Port Harcourt has been given in the last one month or there about should have made the football federation look for a suitable venue for the game.

The Morocco example

Morocco pulled out of hosting the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations  because of the Ebola outbreak in some parts of Africa,although the country was fined $1 million by Confederation of African Football (CAF) and also banned from participating in two editions of the tournament in 2017 and 2019 but the message was clear that the Arab nation was not ready for a national health crisis as well as their citizens in arms way.

There appeal to CAF allow the tournament to be staged in 2016 for obvious reasons was not accepted by CAF but they did what was expedient then.

Should the friendly hold?

A medical doctor based in Lagos Dare Dada disagreed with the football federation on the move to host the national team of DR Congo at this period because it could boomerang.

“The Nigeria Football Federation should be proactive, it is laughable because we can’t host DRC at this time when the organisation is not within the control of the federation, DRC will come with their supporters,officials,how do we want to manage the situation if there is a crisis”

He also mentioned the ongoing crisis in the health sector where the workers are on strike,” JOHESU  is on strike at the moment God forbid we experience any outbreak,why should not subject ourselves to a national crisis”.

He advised the NFF to look for another opponent that can give them competitive edge ahead of the World Cup campaign.



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