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13.01.2010 Press Release

UN sports envoy deplores attack against Togolese football team

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11 January - The deadly attack against Togo's national football team has sparked the condemnation of a senior United Nations official, who today stressed that the assault strikes at the heart of the values of tolerance and understanding espoused by sport.

According to media reports, the squad was attacked as its bus was crossing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into Angola for the African Cup of Nations tournament. Three people were killed and several others injured in the armed attack.

“This abhorrent deed is not only a violent act against innocent civilians, it is also an attack against the values of sport,” which can foster mutual understanding and friendship, said Wilfried Lemke, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace.

Assaulting those taking part in sport “means attacking the very human values that the sport embodies,” he underscored.

Mr. Lemke also voiced hope that authorities will bring those behind the attack to justice.

The incident is another in a tragic series of attacks against those taking part in sport, as well as spectators. Last March, the Sri Lankan national cricket team was attacked by gunmen as they travelled to a match in Lahore, Pakistan, on their team bus.

Just last week, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-filled vehicle in a crowd watching a volleyball game in northwest Pakistan in an attack which claimed nearly 100 lives.

“It seems by attacking [players and fans], the perpetrators also try to sabotage peaceful sport encounters and the hospitality of the hosts of international or local events and spread a message of despair and fear,” the Special Adviser said, calling on all involved in sport to “defy these despicable acts.”

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