Perceived bias on the part of a Japanese referee triggered unrest in Lubumbashi, a centre of Chinese activity in the copper mining industry: those involved apparently mistook the man’s nationality. From the BBC:
Reports say disappointed fans took to the streets and attacked Chinese-run businesses, after TP Mazembe were beaten 3-0 by Italian club Inter Milan ….
During the game in Abu Dhabi, fans had chanted “Chinese go home” ….
Disappointed fans smashed windows and started to loot mobile telephone premises owned by Chinese companies, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported ….
Club president Moise Katumbi congratulated Inter on their win, saying that TP Mazembe had tried their best.
“What is making them most to lose this game was the referee,” he added, calling on Fifa to carry out checks on match officials.
And from Africa Review:
“We cannot understand why all the four yellow cards were for TP Mazembe and none for Inter Milan, Muteba Mwaluke, a Congolese football player protested to the Africa Review on Saturday as fans accused Japanese referee Shimiro Nashukiwa [sic: according to FIFA, the referee was Yuichi Nishimura] of being partial.
The young footballer recalled how the same referee had expelled a TP Mazembe player during the match opposing the team against the Mexican team, the first day ….
Even the team’s chair Moses Katumbi Chapwe was distinctly unimpressed by the referee. “Nevertheless, the refereeing was not good because all the errors were African”, he said.
But Chapwe, also the governor of Katanga Province is already looking ahead and says his team can repeat the feat next year, a line of thought shared by the players.
The tenuous cause of the unrest suggests that it may have merely ignited an existing well of anti-Chinese feeling. Indeed, tension arising from China’s controversial and growing presence in Africa has led to violence before.