FIFA giving $25,000 to Togo ‘keeper

Sepp Blatter is promising US$25,000 (?18,500) for Kodjovi

Obilale, the goalkeeper shot and badly injured in the terror attack

on Togo’s team bus at the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

Obilale, speaking Monday by phone, said he received a letter

from the FIFA president this weekend. Blatter wrote that the money

would come from a FIFA humanitarian fund, Obilale said.

”It’s kind,” he said of the donation.

Obilale was shot twice in the back, suffering spinal and other

injuries. He can no longer move his right leg below the knee nor

feel its foot and toes. The 25-year-old does not expect to ever

again play football but hopes that, with time, he might be able to

walk. For now, he uses a wheelchair.

In an interview last week with The Associated Press, Obilale

said he felt that football officials abandoned him after the

machine-gun attack claimed by separatists in Angola’s oil-producing

Cabinda region. The Togo team’s assistant coach, its press official

and their Angolan bus driver were killed.

Obilale said that neither the Confederation of African Football,

which organizes the Africa Cup, nor Angola, which hosted the 2010

edition, have contacted him. He also complained that officials in

Togo have been slow to help.

Frustrated, he wrote to Blatter in August asking for his

assistance. Even though FIFA was not directly involved in the cup,

Africa’s showpiece football tournament, Obilale felt that only

football’s world governing body has the power to force CAF, Angola

and Togo to come up with a decent compensation package.

”The only person who can shift all this is Mr. Blatter,” he

said in the interview at his hospital in western France, where he

used to play professionally.

Blatter wrote back that FIFA could not be held responsible for

the ”tragic” attack, Obilale said, reading the letter out by

phone to The AP. But Blatter added: ”We will continue to study

this dossier.”

”I wish you a lot of courage,” Blatter wrote, according to

Obilale.

A payment of $70,000 (?53,000) that Togo’s sports minister

promised a month ago when he visited Obilale in France finally

landed in his bank account last week.

Obilale said Monday that the money was sufficient to pay off

three of his seven months of hospital bills. He plans to send the

remainder of the bill to authorities in Togo for payment.