LONDON (AP) A footballer caught up in the bombings in Brussels could stop playing for Congo, saying Wednesday he has been unfairly treated by team officials who want to suspend him for failing to report for international duty after the attacks.
Dieumerci Mbokani was at Zaventem Airport in Brussels during the attacks on March 22 that killed 32 people. Mbokani was unhurt, and decided against travelling to Congo for two African Nations Cup qualifiers.
Congolese Football Federation president Constant Omari told British broadcaster Sky Sports that Mbokani “has shown disrespect for the national side” because he was due to fly a day before the attacks, but decided to change his ticket without explanation.
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Speaking through a translator, Mbokani said: “It might be the best time to stop playing international football.
“Obviously in normal circumstances, I’ll always go and play for Congo but in these exceptional circumstances, I was disappointed they didn’t understand where I was coming from.”
The 30-year-old Mbokani, a striker on loan at Premier League side Norwich from Ukrainian champion Dynamo Kiev, told the BBC that he was “traumatized” by the events in Brussels.
“The Congolese FA president said, `Since when do people from Congo get traumatized?”‘ Mbokani said. “That’s shameful.
“I asked my club Norwich City if I could stay for a few days with my family and they accepted straight away. They know very well that I only just escaped being killed. That’s why I wanted to stay with my family. The football federation in Congo think I’m lying . that’s why I’m going to stop playing for the national team.”
Mbokani scored in Norwich’s 3-2 win over Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday on his return to domestic action.