Ebola spreads fear in sports world

Ebola spreads fear in sports world
Madrid, Oct 10: As the deadly Ebola virus extends its reach deeper into Europe, many African players with top European soccer clubs will soon be heading home for the Nov 10-15 African Nations Cup qualifiers.

Ebola has claimed more than 3,400 lives in West Africa.

Fears that players might come into contact with the Ebola virus led Spanish team Rayo Vallecano to ask Guinean striker Lassane Bangoura to leave his national team's training camp in Morocco and return to Madrid.

Bangoura did so and said he would accept any sanctions imposed by the Guinean football association.

"I do not want problems with Rayo Vallecano, which pays me every month," the player told reporters. "When they said that my teammates were concerned, I made the decision to come and talk to them to tell them not to be afraid."

African soccer's governing body, Confederation of African Football (CAF), decided to hold the first leg of the Ghana-Guinea qualifier in Casablanca, Morocco, but has not yet decided what to do about the second leg, set for Guinea, a country hard hit by the epidemic.

The CAF faces the same dilemma with the second leg of Cameroon-Sierra Leone, as Sierra Leone is another country with a large number of Ebola deaths.

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have three players with Spanish clubs: Sevilla's Stephane M'bia, Osasuna's Raoul Loe and Barcelona's Fabrice Ondoa.

Congolese Cedric Mabwati, on loan from Real Betis to Osasuna, joined his national team to face South Africa after undergoing medical checkups.

Some European newspapers, including Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, have taken up the issue of a possible Ebola outbreak in Europe, especially after Spain recorded the first case of contagion outside Africa.

Apart from football, the Burkina Faso government cited concerns about Ebola when it decided to cancel an Oct 23-Nov 2 cycling event.

During August's Youth Olympics in Nanking, China, authorities banned five athletes from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria for health reasons, which led all three countries to withdraw from the competition.


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