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Football in Senegal suspended after deadly protests

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Senegal protests football suspension

Football in Senegal has been suspended indefinitely after violent protests erupted in the country, resulting in the deaths of 16 people. The protests were triggered by the imprisonment of an opposition politician for a two-year term. The Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) announced the suspension in response to the deadly unrest, following a government order.

The sentencing of Ousmane Sonko last week heightened tensions in Senegal, leading to widespread demonstrations. The death toll from the protests, which started on Thursday, reached 16 people, including two members of the security forces.

The FSF’s statement confirmed the suspension of all football competitions across the nation until further notice. This decision affects various tournaments, including the men’s, women’s, and youth FA Cup fixtures. The knockout stages of these competitions, originally scheduled for June 21 to 25, have been postponed.

However, the reigning African champions, the Teranga Lions, who have already secured their place in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, will not be affected by the suspension. They are set to play their qualifying fixture against Benin, the bottom side in Group L, on June 17.

Prominent Senegalese footballers, such as national team captain Kalidou Koulibaly and Sadio Mane, have taken to social media to appeal for peace amidst the violent situation. Koulibaly, a defender for Chelsea, expressed his condolences to the victims and their families, emphasizing the need for an end to the ongoing violence. Mane, who now plays for Bayern Munich, also called for unity and immediate efforts to restore peace, highlighting the loss of life in recent years.

Ismaila Sarr, a winger for Watford and a member of the Senegalese team that achieved continental success last year, joined his teammates in urging an end to the cycle of violence. He stressed the collective responsibility to preserve Senegal as a place of peace, mutual respect, and love.

The current suspension of football activities in Senegal contrasts sharply with the jubilant celebrations in February 2022 when the national football team returned to Dakar after winning the Africa Cup of Nations, attracting hundreds of thousands of ecstatic fans.

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