The Algerian national team was given a heroes' welcome after returning from the World Cup
AFP/Getty Images
The Algerian national team was given a heroes' welcome after returning from the World Cup

Story highlights

CAF warns on hooliganism following death of Cameroon player

Albert Ebosse killed during match in Algeria

Ebosse, 24, was top scorer in Algeria last season

Killed by a rock, allegedly thrown from home crowd

CNN —  

African football has been warned it “cannot be the breeding ground for hooliganism,” after a Cameroonian player was killed during a league match on Saturday.

Albert Ebosse, 24, died after allegedly being struck by a missile thrown from the crowd.

Ebosse, who was the Algerian league’s top scorer last season with 17 goals, was hit on the head by what appeared to be a piece of concrete.

“My thoughts go out to the family and friends of this young man who enjoyed his job peacefully and went further to pursue his passion for football abroad,” said Issa Hayatou, the Cameroonian president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), in a statement Sunday.

“African football cannot be the breeding ground for hooliganism whatsoever. We expect exemplary sanctions to be taken against this grave act of violence.

“Violence has no place in African football in particular and sports in general. We remain resolute and state in the strongest terms our determination to eradicate all forms of violence and unsportsmanlike conduct in stadiums on the continent.”

Ebosse played for Algerian club JS Kabylie and had scored in his team’s 2-1 home defeat to USM Alger in the city of Tizi Ouzou, east of the capital Algiers.

But as the players returned to the dressing room objects were thrown, apparently by an angry home crowd.

Ebosse died shortly afterward. In a statement, his club JS Kabylie said Ebosse had “succumbed to a head injury.”

World Cup

The tragedy is one of the darkest moments for Algerian football in recent years, yet follows on from arguably the game’s high water mark a few months ago.

The Algeria national team reached the second round of the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil this summer before narrowly succumbing to eventual winners Germany.

But Ebosse’s death, seemingly at the hands of supporters from his own team, has cast a shadow over the game.

Algeria’s interior ministry has launched an investigation into the incident.

Path to Europe

Ebosse’s fledgling career was on a path that many talented and ambitious African soccer player follow.

After excelling in the Cameroon league he arrived in Algeria, via a spell in Malaysia, in the hope of one day making the short trip across the Mediterranean to play in Europe, emulating the likes of the country’s most famous player Samuel Eto’o.

North African clubs have dominated the continent’s competitions in recent years. Their leagues, from Morocco in the west to Egypt in the east, are generally well funded, well organized and well supported compared to the rest of Africa. But the tragedy has shone a spotlight on fan violence in Algeria, a problem that many in the country believe has not been adequately tackled.

“At the moment all memories of the World Cup are forgotten,” said Maher Mezahi, an Algerian soccer journalist based in the north of the country.

“Two weeks ago everyone was singing the praises of Algerian football. On the ground Algerian football needs to come a long way. He tore things up, scored 17 goals. All Algerian journalist couldn’t say a bad word against him. He was softly spoken, polite, principled. It’s a tragedy.”

Last season Ebosse was on the receiving end of monkey chants from one set of opposition supporters. He responded by scoring, and then dancing in front of the supporters who had racially abused him.

“I think if I’m injured, black or white will not come out of my body,” he told the Algerian media after the match, according to Mezahi. “Red will.”