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Cameroonian Striker Albert Ebossé's Death in Algeria Raises Questions About Stadium Security

Screenshot of Albert Ebossé, 1990-2014, Cameroonian striker for JSK Kabylie

Screenshot of Albert Ebossé, 1990-2014, Cameroonian striker for JSK Kabylie

Cameroonian striker Albert Ebossé, who played for Algerian football club JS Kabylie, died on 23 Aug. after being hit by a projectile thrown from the stands, following his team’s 2-1 home defeat by USM Alger on the second day of the Algerian football championship.

Ebossé was taken to a hospital in Tizi Ouzou, Kabylie (110 km east of Algiers), where he later died of the head injury. 
He had scored the only goal for his team, whose home defeat provoked the anger of JS Kabylie’s supporters. They started throwing projectiles from Tizi Ouzou stadium’s stands as the players were returning to the changing rooms. One of them fatally hit the Cameroonian player.

The 24-year-old's death was a shock to those close to him and to the footballing world and prompted some to question the security of Algeria's stadiums. 

His JSK Kabylie teammate Kamel Yelsi described the tragic event to football news site Goal.com:

En fait, il a reçu deux projectiles: le premier sur le poignet et le second sur la nuque. Albert n'a pas pu l'esquiver, il a été transporté directement à l'hôpital où ils ont fait tout ce qu'ils ont pu. Je ne sais pas quoi dire. C'est le problème de l'Algérie on va dire. Dans pas mal de stades ils sont tellement passionnés que cela fait peur. Ça devient comme de la haine. Alors les insultes qui fusent, à la limite, on peut faire abstraction. Mais les projectiles c'est plus des blocs que de simples cailloux.

He was actually hit by two projectiles: the first on his wrist and the second on the back of his neck. Albert had no chance of avoiding it; he was rushed straight to hospital, where they did all they could. I don’t know what to say. Let’s just say it is an Algerian problem. In many of the stadiums, the supporters get so worked up, it’s frightening. It turns into a kind of hatred. When the insults are flying, you can almost ignore them. But the projectiles they throw are not just stones, they are boulders.

Ebossé was born in Douala on 6 Oct., 1989. When he arrived at JS Kabylie in July 2013, Ebossé shared his first impressions of the welcome he was given by the town in an interview with JSK TV. He said at the time that:

Tizi Ouzou est accueillante, sa population est sympathique

Tizi Ouzou is very welcoming, the people here are friendly

On the web, disbelief turned to anger. The Cameroonian Kamtoo blog expressed its sorrow at the circumstances of his death:

Ebossé rêvait de porter un jour le maillot des Lions Indomptables. La bêtise humaine a mis définitivement à ses rêves ce samedi 23 août 2014 sur un terrain de football. Là où il avait multiplié les exploits depuis son arrivée en Kabylie.

Ebossé dreamed of wearing the [Cameroonian national football team] Indomitable Lions jersey. Human stupidity ended those dreams forever this Saturday 23 August 2014 on a football pitch – the place where he had achieved so much since arriving at Kabylie.

Others on Twitter criticised the lack of security in the stadiums :

How can Algeria expect to host the African Cup of Nations when it cannot even ensure the security of a small 10,000 capacity stadium

Algeria has annonced its candidacy to host the African Cup of Nations in 2017. 

Côte d'Ivoire's sports minister also responded:

Why are spectators allowed to enter the stadium carrying weapons? Violence in the stadiums of North Africa.

Olivier Enogo (via Julie Owono of Global Voices) would like Ebossé’s footballing colleagues to ensure that progress is made regarding regulations for this problem:

Chers amis footballeurs, ç'aurait pu être votre tête à la place de celle d'Ebossé. Qui parlera pour ce jeune homme ? Qui défendra sa mémoire ? Qui osera au sein du football international africain dire intelligemment stop à cette bêtise ? Au lieu de vous battre pour des primes, ces restes que les plus puissants veulent bien vous céder, défendez ce qui vous appartient et qui n’ a pas de prix : votre dignité et celle de ceux qui vous ressemblent. Imaginons juste un jour vous vous refusiez de jouer pendant un temps indéterminé, jusquà ce que la FIFA adopte des règles contraignantes, allant jusqu'à la suspension de l'équipe dont les supporters auraient eu des comportements racistes.

Dear footballing friends, it could have been your head instead of Ebossé’s. Who will speak on behalf of this young man? Who will defend his memory? Who in African international football will dare to have the intelligence to say no to this stupidity? Instead of fighting for bonuses, those scraps that more powerful people are happy to give you, stand up for your most priceless possession: your dignity and the dignity of people like you. What if one day you refused to play indefinitely, until FIFA adopted binding rules, including suspension of any team whose supporters displayed racist behaviour.

According to Algerian professional football league president Mahfoud Kerbadj, the Ministry of the Interior has ordered a judicial enquiry into this death, .

As a tribute to the young player, here is a video compilation of highlights from his career:

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