Sixteen Libyan football players, including the coach, were infected with malaria and COVID-19 while participating in the African Minifootball Cup in Nigeria.
The development resulted in the death of one player, Ayman Neqreish.
This was disclosed by the Libyan football federation in a statement released to the media and monitored by 1st News. The statement revealed that the players were infected with malaria, alongside testing positive for COVID-19 upon their return.
Equally important, the players confirmed that the team’s administration had told them that Libya’s National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed there was no need to take the malaria vaccination before travelling to Nigeria. They also described their residence in Nigeria as less than ideal; adding that this must have exposed them to malaria.
Further, the team has called on the Libyan authorities to take responsibility; urging them to send the affected players for treatment abroad as soon as possible.
A committee has been set up by the the Libyan Minister of Sports to investigate the incident. Also, Prime Minister Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba has offered his condolences to the deceased and the injured; adding that he is awaiting the results of the investigations.
Meanwhile, the infections did not deter Libya on the pitch. The side secured a place in the Minifootball World Cup, which Ukraine will host in August; with a dominating 6-0 win over Burkina Faso in the African Cup quarter-finals.
Libya beat Ghana 2-0 in penalties during the semi-finals, after initially drawing 2-2.
The AFCON Minifootball Cup is a continental indoor competition contested by the national teams of the members of the African Minifootball Federation (AMF). The first edition of the tournament was held in Libya in May 2018.
Libya lost the final match 1-0 against Egypt at the MiniFootball African Cup of Nations (Mini AFCON). The match was played in Ibadan, Oyo State.