Madrid: Spanish club Rayo Vallecano ordered Guinean international Lass Bangoura to return from African Cup of Nations duty because his teammates were afraid of catching the Ebola virus, a spokesman said Thursday. Bangoura left the national team camp in Morocco on Wednesday night after being given the order. Guinea are due to play Ghana in Casablanca on Saturday in a Nations Cup qualifier.
He could face sanctions from his national side and the Confederation of African Football. "I was upset when I heard that some teammates in the (Rayo) dressing room were worried about me and about Ebola," the 22-year-old attacker told Spanish radio station Onda Cero. Guinea's coach Michel Dussuyer was "angry" about his decision, but Bangoura added "I have no worry about it because I am under contract with Rayo."
The Spanish club confirmed that it had ordered Bangoura to return. Guinea has seen more than 760 deaths from about 1,300 people known to have contracted Ebola there. The incurable virus has killed nearly 4,000 people across West Africa. The current epidemic is said to have originated in Guinea. Bangoura's agent Alfredo Fernandez said that Rayo players were worried because some of Bangoura's Guinea teammates play for Guinean clubs.
Ebola fears have grown in Spain since a nurse who has treated patients with the virus was found to have Ebola. Fernandez told Onda Cero that Bangoura became worried when he heard about his team's fears. "The player told himself 'if there is the slightest worry among my teammates or at the club that pays me then I will take the plane and go back," according to the agent.
Other African players based in Spain have not yet followed Bangoura's lead but their clubs are monitoring the Ebola crisis. Stephane Mbia of Sevilla will play for Cameroon against Sierra Leone in Yaounde. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the worst hit countries in the epidemic, have all been ordered to play their Nations Cup home games in neutral countries because of the crisis.