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Mali Prime Minister: Team Will Pay

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AP, Mar. 27

BAMAKO, Mali — Prime Minister Ousmane Issoufe Maiga said Mali’s soccer team will pay for losing a World Cup qualifying game which sparked rioting, looting and the destruction of monuments in the capital Bamako.

“All the consequences of the players’ acts will backfire,” Maiga said without elaborating on Monday, a day after the match and hours of street violence.

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After Togo scored what appeared to be the game-winning goal in injury time, dozens of Mali fans in the sold-out 70,000-seat stadium invaded the field, and police fired tear gas. Officials suspended the game, and state television immediately cut its live transmission.

Dozens of people sustained minor injuries, including some police officers, Interior Minister Colonel Sadio Gassama said. He added that some were treated at the stadium and most at the hospital, but all were released by Monday afternoon.

Rioting spread from the stadium to central Bamako, with thousands descending on the capital’s main African Unity Avenue and threatening Mali’s top soccer players.

Protesters blocked the avenue with flaming tires, cutting off western Bamako, the so-called Left Bank, from the eastern half of the city. Dozens of cars were burned and used to block other roads.

Police repeatedly fired tear gas as the crowd tried to ransack the Mali Football Federation offices.

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“I have many fears for Togo-Mali relations,” Sissoko said.

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Original article

(Posted on March 30, 2005)

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