JawaPos.com – Ahead of the start of the 2023 African Cup of Nations semi-final match, Democratic Republic of Congo (DR) Congo players stood up in protest not to sing the national anthem and performed an action of covering their mouths accompanied by their left hand forming a gun pointing at their temple.
The 2023 AFCON Africa Cup of Nations semi-final match between DR Congo and hosts Ivory Coast on Thursday (8/2) at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe was disrupted by silent protests by DR Congo players.
When the DR Congo national anthem was played, the players who were fielded chose not to sing the national anthem and chose to simultaneously close their mouths and point their left hands in the shape of a gun to the temples of their heads.
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The action aims to draw attention to the killings taking place in Eastern Congo, where clashes between the army and M23 rebels have displaced thousands of people.
DR Congo has been grappling with domestic instability and political strife in the country, especially following contested elections in late 2023. The unrest has been further exacerbated by an armed rebellion in the east of the country led by the M23 rebel group.
At a time when their country is grappling with violence and chaos, the team nicknamed The Leopards is trying to highlight the suffering experienced by their compatriots.
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After the match, their coach Sebastian Desabre in his press conference explained the actions shown by his team.
“It was a message to show support for the victims and tell everyone that there are indeed things happening in the East and it is necessary to explain that they are the ones who are upset about it,” Desabre was quoted as saying via Pulse Sports
He also revealed that football is an important element as a hope for the unity of a nation.
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“The national football team is a driving force in a nation and tonight it is our duty to tell everyone what is happening behind the scenes,” Desabre said.
Previously, their captains Chancel Mbemba and Cedric Bakambu had also tried to raise awareness regarding this issue on Monday via their personal social media.