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Africa Cup of Nations game continued despite crowd violence, tear gas and 30-minute delay

CAF officials decided that the show must go on despite conditions in Equatorial Guinea that should have seen the match called off.


The Africa Cup of Nations semifinal from Ghana and hosts Equatorial Guinea had a bit of a nasty atmosphere from the start. Bottles were thrown onto the pitch pretty early on, and it certainly didn't help things that the Ghanaians dominated, taking a 3-0 lead. After the third goal, there was a PA announcement about throwing projectiles. It didn't go well.

Eventually, the rowdy home fans turned on the visiting Ghana supporters and started attacking them, resulting in the Ghanaians emptying the stands, crossing the running track and standing behind one of the goals, since it was the only safe place they could go. Understandably, this led to the referee suspending the match until order could be restored.

Generally, one of two things happens next in this situation. Either order is restored very quickly or a decision is made to abandon the match. It's very rare that a game is delayed for crowd trouble longer than 10 minutes before a match is called off. This one was delayed for 30-plus minutes and wasn't called off.

Strangely, a police helicopter started flying around the stadium, apparently trying to spot the fans who started the trouble in the first place. Good luck with that!

Things got even uglier after that...

...and the police responded with a bit more force.

The Ghanaian fans, instead of being led out one of the normal exits, were escorted by police down the tunnel that the players and officials use. They're not able to leave yet, though, and who knows how long it'll take the police to make that possible.

Incredibly, despite the presence of a police helicopter in the stadium and people getting tear gassed, CAF officials did not abandon the game. Equatorial Guinea players had to bend over and clean up the debris that had accumulated, while the referee had to wait a further five minutes after deciding to resume play to allow the tear gas to dissipate.

Once the game restarted, the referee only let the teams play three minutes of the eight that were remaining on the clock before blowing the whistle for full time. No one protested this. Ghana move on to the final against Ivory Coast after posting a 3-0 win, while Equatorial Guinea might not even be allowed to play the thirrd place game against DR-Congo.