JS Kabylie striker Albert Ebosse of Cameroon controls the ball during the final of the Algerian soccer Cup in Blida near the Algerian capital, Algiers. (AP Photo)
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With the terrible hindsight afforded by Ebosse's death last weekend, it is now clear that the Algerian national team's impressive performance at the World Cup in Brazil – beating South Korea, reaching the competition's knockout stage for the first time, playing attractive, intrepid football – was a mere veneer. Because back in Algeria, the game is being hollowed out by habitual spectator violence. Algerian media reports analyzing Ebosse's death describe a catalog of previous bloodshed: A player stabbed by marauding fans in 2001 and another in 2012; a former national team player beaten bloody this February; others beaten in March. One of the turning points against European hooliganism came when 39 people were killed at the 1985 European Cup final at Heysel Stadium in Belgium, when riots broke out and a wall separating rival fans of Liverpool and Juventus collapsed.Ebosse's death must be Algeria's Heysel, the tragedy when enough really is enough. To help force change, the governing body of African football, CAF, must ban Algerian teams from its competitions, just as its European counterpart UEFA banned English clubs from playing in Europe post-Heysel.
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