AFC chief condemns Pakistan attack

Asian Football boss denounces attack at football game, insisting country will still host youth qualifiers next month.

    AFC chief condemns Pakistan attack
    The bombing at a low-key football event was apparently aimed at a provincial government minister [Reuters]

    The Asian Football Confederation Friday denounced a deadly attack at a match in Pakistan two days earlier and insisted the country will still host qualifiers for a continental youth tournament.

    The bomb killed eight young fans and injured others, just after the final of a local four-a-side tournament in Lyari - a Karachi slim - at about 2 am Wednesday.

    Thousands, still awake during the fasting month of Ramadan, had gathered to watch the game before the blast. At least three of those killed were aged only 15.

    It was the latest assault on sport in a country that has not hosted a top-level international match since militants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in the eastern city of Lahore in March 2009.

    "It's shameful to attack those who are enjoying a football game. Some of the innocent fans who lost their lives would have been budding footballers," said AFC president Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa in a statement.

    Although football has long given solace to those living in Lyari, former FIFA referee Ahmed Jan says violence is hurting the game.

    "Football is dying," said Jan.

    "It died, maybe, for the last time on Tuesday. If the government fails to maintain law and order soon then I'm afraid this most sports-loving part of the city will not be there on the sporting map."

    But AFC boss Sheikh Salman said in a statement that scheduled qualifiers for the 2014 Asian Under-16 championships would go ahead in October to give a further boost to the rising popularity of football in Pakistan.

    Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates will compete in the event.

    SOURCE: AFP


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