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African U-20 Championship Threatened by Libyan Protests and AIDS Test Requirement

Next month’s Confederation of African Football (CAF) U-20 championship in Libya, already threatened by anti-government protests wracking the country, faces a second challenge: mounting African anger at Libyan insistence that fans undergo a mandatory AIDS test before being granted visas. CAF is closely monitoring the escalating protests in Libya in which tens of people are believed to have been killed by security forces in the last 48 hours. Africa’s soccer body is hoping that the protests will subside so that it can avoid postponement of the championship scheduled to open in Libya on March 18. The protesters have vowed to continue to take to the streets until they force Col. Moammar Gaddafi from office. The wave of anti-government demonstrations sweeping North Africa has already toppled two of Gaddafi’s neighbors, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisian President Zine Abedine Ben Ali.

Libyan protesters demand Gaddafi’s resignation Adding to the threat to the U-20 championship posed by Libyan anger, is a sense of Arab discrimination of non-Arab fellow Africans. “The precautionary measure is expected to receive wild criticism as it will deepen the stigmatization of people living with the (AID/HIV) disease,” warned Ghanasoccernet. Comments on the Ghanaian soccer website reflect the criticism. “Why are they going to that country? Our guys can do better without any support from fans,” said Abrokwa. “Stupid country,” added another commentator identified only as coach.

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