OCTOBER 16, 2014 By Sahr Morris Jnr.
Sierra Leone national team players have broken their silence with reactions to several Ebola chants from opposing fans during the team’s 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Since the qualifying campaign started with an away tie to Ivory Coast, Leone Stars players have undergone several snide, discrimination and provocation from away fans and players.
During the Ivory Coast clash, some of the Ivorian players refused to shake hands with their Sierra Leonean counterparts, which caused striker Kei Kamara ignoring Yaya Toure’s binding gesture.
In DR Congo, the fans shouted ‘Ebola’ anytime Sierra Leonean players were in possession of the ball, and in Cameroon fans taunted the players in their bus whilst heading to the stadium.
However, several players have taken to the social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, to react to the taunts, and one of them is Notts County defender, Mustapha Dumbuya with this post on his Facebook wall: “I don’t care if they respect me, I’ve got enough respect for myself. I am a Sierra Leonean not a virus.”
Germany-based winger, George Kweku Davies, who missed the team’s double headed ties against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, changed his Facebook profile with a similar message as Dumbuya. “I am a Sierra Leonean not a virus.”
Several other players have expressed their dismay about the present Ebola epidemic in the country that has brought them such humiliation across the continent.
“You feel humiliated like garbage, and you want to punch someone,” John Trye, Leone Stars’ reserve goalkeeper told New York Times after hearing ‘Ebola’ shouted at the players during a training session in Yaoundé last Thursday.
“No one wants to have Ebola in their country. Sierra Leone is struggling. And they shove it in our face. That’s not fair.”
Columbus Crew striker, Kei Kamara, likened the devastation caused by the Ebola outbreak in the country to a ‘sci-fi zombie movie’. “I know seven of the nurses in the hospital where I was born have passed away from helping Ebola patients,” he said. “It’s a sad story and we just hope that more help will come.”