AFCON 2023: Diplomatic Row Between Nigeria’s High Commission and South African Authorities

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Nigeria and South Africa has a long standing rivalry in football.

Mediaage NG News – JOHANNESBURG, South Africa

The Nigerian High Commission in South Africa on Tuesday issued a warning to Nigerian football supporters to be cautious of provocative celebrations, should the Super Eagles emerge victorious in Wednesday’s AFCON Semi finals between the two nations in Cote d’Ivoire’s city of Bouaké.

However, the South African authorities have responded by saying it’s a false alarm.

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Nigeria’s High Commission said it issued the warning because it had seen evidence of “veiled threats” by South Africans online.

There has also been exchange of words between citizens of the two nations as Nigerian artists lost to South Africa’s Tyla in the Grammys.

The warning from the High Commission was intended to prevent foreseeable retaliation through xenophobic attacks by frustrated South African supporters.

There has been a long history of rivalry between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana. This is has also transcend beyond the football pitch to other areas of life, including music. It oftens boil to who is the biggest between the two nations.

In a statement on Tuesday, South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said there was “no history of soccer hooliganism among South Africans” at matches against Nigeria.

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“We are confident that the sports-loving nation of South Africa poses no threat to Nigerian citizens, and we do not agree with the apprehension expressed by the High Commission”, it added.

“The advisory is regrettable because it seems to create alarm and unnecessary tension between the citizens of South Africa and Nigerians living in or visiting South Africa.”

Nigeria has yet to respond to the statement from South African officials.

In recent years, South Africa has seen a wave of xenophobic attacks against Africans who have moved there from elsewhere in the continent, often for better economic opportunities.

The Nigerian High Commission advised Nigerians living in South Africa to “be watchful of their utterances, be mindful of where they choose to watch the match especially in public places, and refrain from engaging in loud, riotous or provocative celebrations should the Super Eagles win”.

The match is scheduled for 17:00 GMT.

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