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Lost to Europe: Players of African descent who will light up Euro 2024

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Europe’s elite football tournament tagged Euro 2024, which kicked off on Friday, will see close to 50 players of African descent showcasing their talents at the European Championship, highlighting the now famously held maxim of “global reach and unity of football.”

But in the real essence of the word, these African talents have been lost to the European countries because instead of seeing them playing at the African Cup of Nations, we are resigned to watching them strutting their stuff for European countries.

This year tournament holding in Germany, features one of the largest representation of players of African descent, highlighting the rich diversity and multiculturalism inherent in modern football.

Africanewswatch.com takes a look at some of the big name players of African heritage who will light up the Euro 2024 tournament.

Kylian Mbappe (France/Cameroon/Algeria)

If the Cameroonian football authorities had been successful in persuading Kylian Mbappe to switch allegiance to the West African country, his silky skills would have graced the African pitches, but it was a case of too late as he had already made up his mind to play for France at the time Samuel Eto’o and Fecafoot made moves to lure the highly talented player.

The former Paris Saint-Germain star is one of the players expected to shine in the Euro competition but his international career could have taken a different path had he chosen to represent his parents’ countries.

With a Cameroonian father and a mother of Algerian descent, Mbappe could even have played for the Algerian national team but the new Real Madrid signing opted to represent his birth country, France, on the international stage.

Bukayo Saka (England/Nigeria)
Nigeria’s loss was England’s gain as with Bukayo Saka growing to become one of the best footballers currently playing at the highest level.

Born in London to Nigerian parents, the Arsenal star has never hidden his love for Nigeria and on several occasions, mentioned that he would have loved to play for the West African country but the lack of connection saw him instead adorning the Three Lions’ jersey.

At only 22, Saka brings versatility to the England side and has quickly become one of the most exciting young talents in football, known for his speed, creativity and tactical intelligence.

Romelu Lukaku (Belgium/DRC)

Everyone knows Romelu Lukaku and what he can do! The bulky former Chelsea striker will compete in his third European Championship for the Belgian national team, instead of filing out for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where his parents originally comes from.

The AS Roma star’s father was an ex-international himself who played for the Leopards, and one would have expected his more accomplishmed son to toe his path but unfortunately, his two sons opted to represent Belgium with Lukaku being the Red Devils’ all-time leading scorer with 85 goals, with the chance to adding to his tally in Germany.

Jamal Musiala (Germany/Nigeria)

Jamal Musiala is perhaps, one of the standout players in Germany’s squad for the Euro 2024 tournament, but if the Nigerian Football Federation had had it’s way some few years ago, he could have been a silver medallist at the last Afcon along with the likes of Victor Osimhen and Ademola Lookman.

The Bayern Munich star had a Nigeria father while his mother is German with Polish roots and could have even played for Poland or England where he was born.

A product of Chelsea academy, Musiala played for both England and Germany at the youth level before committing to Die Mannschaft in 2021.

Johan Bakayoko (Belgium/Ivory Coast/Rwanda)

One of the hottest footballing prospects in Europe, Johan Bakayoko was born in Belgium to an Ivorian father and a Rwandan mother and was eligible to play for any of these African nations, but decided to represent his country of birth.

Had he opted to represent either, defenders and goalkeepers in the continent would have been reeling at his sight as Bakayoko is known for his brute strength, versatility, and sharp attacking instincts, coupled with fierce shots.

Memphis Depay (Netherlands/Ghana)

Memphis Depay has been around for ages but many do not know that he has roots in Ghana through his father, and could have played for the Black Stars if the country had succeeded in persuading him to change allegiance from the Netherlands.

At the Euro 2024, Depay is expected to bring his unique blend of skills and flair to the Netherlands’ campaign with his technical prowess, powerful shots, and creative playmaking.

Jeremie Frimpong (Netherlands/Ghana)

Jeremy Frimpong is another Dutch player with Ghanaian roots who have been mesmerising defenses in Africa, but rather will now be tormenting opponents at the Euros.

Known for his blistering pace and attacking prowess from the right-back position, Frimpong brings a dynamic energy to the Dutch squad.

His defensive tenacity coupled with his ability to join the attack seamlessly makes him a formidable presence on the pitch.

Eduardo Camavinga (France/Angola/DRC)

Camavinga has even stronger roots in Africa, having been born in a refugee camp in Cabinda, Angola in 2002, to an Angolan-Congolese father and a Congolese mother who fled the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His family moved to France when he was just two years old.

Now 21, the midfielder has emerged as a key player known for his composure on the ball, tactical awareness and ability to dictate play in midfield. Camavinga’s skillful dribbling and precise passing have provided crucial support to France’s midfield stability and attacking prowess.

Leroy Sane (Germany/Senegal)

Leroy Sane’s father was a former Senegalese international and many had thought his son would toe his path and play for the West African team.

But he opted to play for his adopted country and the Euro 2024 which will be hosted on home soil will present Sane with the chance to show the world dynamic and explosive talent.

Known for his blistering pace, technical skills and goal-scoring ability, Sané is a formidable winger who poses a constant threat to opposition defences.

Lamine Yamal (Spain/Morocco/Equitorial Guinea)

The 16-year-old Barcelona star is the youngest player in the competition and could have added such flair to African football if he had opted to play for either of Morocco where his father hails from and the country of his mother, Equatorial Guinea.

Born in Spain, Yamal had represented the country at the youth level before being called up to the senior national team despite attempts by Morocco to persuade him to play for the North African country.

William Saliba (France/Cameroon)

Arsenal defender, William Saliba is one of the finest centrebacks in world football, and even if he doesn’t appear to entirely have the confidence of France boss Didier Deschamps, few in England doubt Saliba’s qualities after another season in which he’s played a key role in an Arsenal title challenge.

He was long sought after by Samuel Eto’o and the Fecafoot but by that time, it was already too late as he had decided to pitch his tent with the French national team.

Antonio Rüdiger (Germany/Sierra Leone)

The Germany international defender has never hidden his love for Sierra Leone, his mother’s homeland, and has invested heavily in charity projects in the West African nation.

Rudiger even celebrated with a Sierra Leonean flag at Wembley after winning the recent Champions League final as Real Madrid dispatched Borussia Dortmund, and regularly makes trips to the country.

Nathan Aké (Netherlands/Ivory Coast)

Manchester City defence lymchpin, Nathan Ake may be one of the standout players in the Dutch squad but he could have been doing it for Ivory Coast his late father, Moise, came from.

Ake was once courted by former Elephants boss Marc Wilmots, before ultimately plumping for the land of his birth.

Aurélien Tchouaméni (France/Cameroon)

Real Madrid’s versatile player,
Aurélien Tchouaméni, is another one who escaped from playing on home turf and will be showcasing his talent at the Euro in the colours of France.

Tchouaméni who has a Cameroonian heritage, has grown to become an integral part of the French team and has blossomed into a world-class central midfielder, helping Real Madrid win its 15th Champions League title a couple of weeks ago.

Tchouameni was born in France to two Cameroonian parents and could have been the Indomitable Lions’ midfield general had he not opted to represent Les Bleus.

Rafael Leão (Portugal/Angola/ Sao Tome)

Portuguese forward, Rafael Leão, could have played either for Angola, the country of his father, or Sao Tome where his mother hails from but opted to represent Portugal where he was born.

The 25-year-old has become one of the most complete strikes since leaving Lille for AC Milan in 2019, scoring loads of goals for the Italian side and the Portuguese national team.

Honourable mentions:

David Alaba (Austria/Nigeria), Eberechi Ezeh (England/Nigeria), Noah Okafor (Switzerland/Nigeria), Marc Guehi (England/Ivory Coast), Ezri Konza (England/DRC/Angola), Joshua Zirkzee (Netherlands/Nigeria), Yvon Mvogo (Switzerland/Cameroon), Brice Samba (France/Congo-Brazzaville),
Dayot Upamecano (France/Guinea-Bissau), Manuel Akanji (Germany/Nigeria),
Benjamin Heinrichs (Germany/Ghana), Cody Gakpo (Netherlands/Ghana), Brian Bobby (Netherlands/Ghana), Kevin Danso (Austria/Ghana), Kwadwo Duah (Switzerland/Ghana), Michael Folorunso (Italy/Nigeria),
Kobbie Mainoo (England/ Ghana), Ousmane Dembélé (France/Mauritania, Senegal, Mali), Nico Williams (Spain/ Ghana), Jérémy Doku (Belgium/Ghana), Loïs Openda (Belgium/Morocco, Congo)

Sports

Sex scandal rocks Cameroon Volleyball Federation as officials accused of assaulting underage players

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Sex scandal rocks Cameroon Volleyball Federation as officials accused of assaulting underage player

A raging sex scandal is currently rocking the Cameroon Volleyball Federation ((FECAVOLLEY), which has seen officials scampering to deny the allegations.

According to local media, the Federation has been enmeshed in sexual misconduct involving coaches and underage players leading to a public outcry for investigation and transparency.

A whistle blower had raised an alarm with accusations that several young players, aged between 16 and 18, were impregnated by national team coaches, prompting a severe backlash and calls for an in-depth investigation.

However, in a statement on Friday, the Federation strongly denied the allegations involving sexual misconduct within its ranks.

In the statement, FECAVOLLEY addressed the claims head-on, distancing itself from the individuals involved and asserting its commitment to the ethical management and development of volleyball in Cameroon.

“The Cameroon Volleyball Federation, under the leadership of Mr. Julien Serge Abouem, wishes to inform both national and international public opinion that FECAVOLLEY is not involved in the tumult of moral affairs prevalent in the media, especially on social networks,” the statement said.

The scandal had come to light following revelations made by a professional player in an open letter where she condemned what she called the pervasive “droit de cuissage” (right of first night) and “organized debauchery” allegedly endorsed by the federation’s president.

The player’s accusations extended to the behavior of certain coaches whom she claimed were engaged in the harassment and sexual abuse of young female athletes.

The situation got worse when a sports journalist, Richard Naha reported that five underage volleyball players were currently pregnant as a result of relations with federation officials.

However, FECAVOLLEY’s statement vehemently denied any involvement with the indicted officials, referring to them as impostors who falsely claim to be associated with a so-called Cameroonian Federation of Volleyball.

“These individuals will not find a platform for expression at FECAVOLLEY, which continues to pursue its development plan harmoniously,” the statement added.

“FECAVOLLEY invites the necessary support for the implementation of public policies in the field of sports and physical education,” it noted.

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Moroccan novelist Leila Slimani makes history as she co-writes Paris Olympics ceremony script

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Moroccan novelist, Leila Slimani, has made history after she was selected alongside world renowned
historian Patrick Boucheron, and French screenwriter, Fanny Herrero, to write the script for the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

According to the Games organizers, the opening ceremony will be a spectacle that promises to be the contrary of a heroized story, cleverly subverting clichés with humor in a production that will also feature contributions from playwright and actor Damien Gabriac.

In an interview with Le Monde on Tuesday, Slimani and Boucheron shared how they envisioned the show within artistic director Thomas Jolly’s team.

“I had the concept of an immense spectacle, but I lacked a narrative to address the world,” Jolly explained, adding that having the four scripting is the ideal team.

The opening ceremony of the games will take place on July 26, and Jolly said it will break conventions as it will take place on the Seine River and amidst Paris’s iconic landmarks instead of a stadium like in previous ones.

“Along the riverbanks and bridges, 3,000 dancers and actors will present 12 artistic scenes, while national delegations will parade aboard boats,” Boucheron said.

He stated further that he drew inspiration from “the ceremony imagined by Jean-Paul Goude for the bicentennial of the French Revolution in 1989,” a landmark event in live performance history.

“The parade subverted national stereotypes and boldly advocated for global mixing with an optimism that we seem to have lost today,” he emphasized.

According to him, Paris 2024 will be the opposite of the ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Games, which was “an ode to greatness and a display of strength.”

“The opening of the Olympics must speak to the world about France and speak to France about the world, aiming to be the opposite of a virile, heroized tale,centered around France as a promise of freedom.”

Slimani also describes it as “a very generous narrative, filled with joy, emulation, movement, excitement, and sparkle, not just the famous philosophical values that France often proudly exhibits, sometimes with too much assurance.”

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