Congo players protest for peace ahead of AFCON semi-final

February 8 – Congo’s players and coach Sébastien Desabre called for peace in a protest before their team’s Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against host nation Nigeria to highlight the armed violence taking place in the eastern region of the DRC. 

The players, who wore black armbands during the match, and Desabre held their right hands in front of their mouths and two fingers to their temples during a part of Congo’s national anthem.

“It was a message to show support to the victims, to notify (people) that there are indeed things happening in the east and that it is necessary to shed light on it. People are disappointed about that, too,” said Desabre.

“A national football team is a driving force for a nation. And this evening, it was also our duty to be able to inform what is happening behind the scenes.”

In the lead-up to the game, the team had already spotlighted the issues with both captain Chancel Mbemba and striker Cédric Bakambu taking to social media. DR Congo have enjoyed an outstanding Nations Cup campaign and the tournament has offered the team a platform to draw attention to the situation.

Eastern Congo, a region rich with mineral resources, has long seen armed violence as different groups seek to gain control.

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