Zambia Call Off Home Friendly Over South African Riots

JOHANNESBURG – The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has called off the country’s friendly soccer international against South Africa in Lusaka on Saturday after riots in Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria left at least five people dead.

Zambia’s Stoppila Sunzu (R) challenges Tokelo Rantie of South Africa during the Nelson Mandela Challenge at Soccer city outside Soweto, file. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

South African police arrested more than 80 people and confirmed the five deaths as violence intensified on Tuesday, spreading to surrounding townships with roving groups attacking and looting mainly foreign-owned shops.

The FAZ in a statement on Tuesday cited “prevailing security concerns in South Africa” for cancelling the fixture even though Zambia were hosting the game.

The latest wave of unrest has raised fears of a recurrence of the violence aimed at foreigners in 2015 in which at least seven people died.

The Zambia-South Africa match will be rescheduled to be played during the October window for internationals.

The South African Football Association (SAFA) said: “Since learning of the cancellation of the match on Tuesday, SAFA began efforts to find a late replacement for Saturday’s match and are currently talking to one COSAFA country which has shown interest.”

Local media report that SAFA is in talks with Madagascar to host a fixture in Johannesburg.

(Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Ken Ferris)