Xenophobia: South Africa Slams Nigeria Govt. Over Fake Alarm

A diplomatic tension has arisen between Nigeria and South Africa in anticipation of their semi-final encounter at the Africa Cup of Nations slated for Wednesday.

The Nigerian High Commission in South Africa has issued a cautionary advisory to Nigerian football enthusiasts, urging them to exercise restraint in their celebrations should their team emerge victorious.

This advisory is intended to preempt any potential escalation of xenophobic incidents among aggrieved South African supporters.

However, South Africa maintains that such a warning has only stirred baseless apprehensions.

The enduring rivalry between the football powerhouses—the Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana—has been extensively documented.

In a statement on Tuesday, South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) asserted that there is “no precedent of soccer hooliganism among South Africans” during matches against Nigeria.

“We are confident that the sports-loving nation of South Africa poses no threat to Nigerian citizens, and we do not concur with the apprehension expressed by the High Commission,” Dirco added.

“The advisory is regrettable as it appears to sow alarm and unnecessary tension between the citizens of South Africa and Nigerians residing in or visiting South Africa.”

Nigeria has yet to formally respond to the statement issued by South African officials.

In recent years, South Africa has experienced a surge in xenophobic attacks targeting Africans who have migrated there from other parts of the continent, often in search of better economic prospects.

In its earlier statement on Tuesday, Nigeria’s diplomatic service stated that it issued the warning in response to “veiled threats” observed from South Africans online.

It advised Nigerians residing in South Africa to “exercise caution in their expressions, carefully choose where they opt to watch the match especially in public venues, and abstain from participating in loud, disorderly, or provocative celebrations in the event of a Super Eagles victory”.

The match is scheduled to commence at 17:00 GMT on Wednesday in the Ivorian city of Bouaké.

The other semi-final features hosts Ivory Coast against the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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