Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Qaddafi: right man to heal Algeria - Egypt rifts?

Sometimes the power football wields is amazing. In history we have seen the potential of the beautiful game to make things smooth between warring factions, between conglomerates (think adidas-Puma) and even among nations.

But last week we saw Algeria and Egypt threaten to boil over their final world cup qualifier. The two nations, historically unfriendly to each other, met in Sudan for the last time to decide who goes to South Africa.

Before that game, temperatures had been increasing as Egypt claimed there had been anti-Egyptian rioting in Algeria where flags had - reportedly - been burned. All this led to a high police build up in Sudan where Algeria won 1-0.

But instead of the well taken Algerian goal to end the impasse, it fuelled the flames. 32 police and 21 Egyptian fans were said to have been injured in post-match violence.

The next day, Egyptian demonstrations outside the Algerian embassy in Cairo turned violent.

Several cross-allegations were traded by both nations' governments in the following days and now the Arab League has decided to do something about it.

In what the official Libyan news agency claims is due to 'the status the Leader enjoys with both sides', Muammar el-Qaddafi has been called to mediate the issue before something nasty happens. As head of the African Union, the Colonel pushed his long-held agenda to unite Africa and this bad piece of PR certainly would not help his cause.

El-Qaddafi himself is known as a dictator in his country and some have questioned the wisdom in putting him in charge of a sensitive issue like this. Would the people of Egypt and Algeria trust him, given that their own leaders have blown this issue into a nationalistic credo to take the minds of the people of the more pressing issues of economic hardships?

However, given the Colonel's geographical location, he may yet be the best person to do the job. Satirists have also been quick to point out that the Libyan leader speaks the 'undemocratic language of the presidents of Algeria and Egypt'.

Whatever the case may be, casual football observers would hope that the Algerian amassador is reinstated and Egypt doesnt carry out its threat to move out of international football in 2 years.