Two opponents cancel games with South Africa amid violence

In this Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, photo, Nigerian foreign nationals remove a looter from their shops in Troyville, Johannesburg and take him to a waiting police van. Looting and violence spread across several neighbourhoods in South Africa's major cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg after a spate of attacks that appeared to target foreign-owned shops. (AP Photo)
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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s soccer federation (SAFA) says Madagascar pulled out of playing an international game on Saturday, amid xenophobic violence in Johannesburg and elsewhere in the country.

A man stands by a bonfire during a protest on the road opposite Shoprite in Abuja, Nigeria Wednesday. Sept. 4, 2019. South African-owned businesses operating in Nigeria are being targeted with violence in retaliation for xenophobic attacks carried out against Africans working in South Africa. Police in South African arrested more than 100 people in five areas impacted by days of violence in Johannesburg and Pretoria. (AP Photo)

Madagascar was a late replacement after Zambia’s soccer officials canceled plans to host South Africa for a game in Lusaka on Saturday.

South Africa has faced criticism from African countries during several days of violent mobs attacking foreign-owned businesses in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

SAFA says on Twitter that Madagascar “decided to withdraw from the encounter” without specifying the reason.

Free tickets were offered for the hastily arranged game at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

SAFA earlier published a message from coach Molefi Ntseki calling on fans to attend and “use this opportunity to spread word of love and show solidarity with ‘our African brothers and sisters.’”

Associated Press

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