South Africa: Madagascar joins Zambia in football boycott

    A South African fan watches as his team lose to Brazil in 2009.

    (CNN)Madagascar has joined Zambia in calling off a football match against South Africa in the wake of xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

    On Wednesday, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) pulled out of hosting South Africa's "Bafana Bafana" in Lusaka Saturday, citing "prevailing security concerns."
    The South African Football Association (SAFA) turned to Madagascar for a hastily arranged friendly in Orlando on the eastern edge of Johannesburg.
      But the Bafana Bafana Twitter page said Thursday the game would no longer take place.
      "SAFA regrets to inform the public that the match between Bafana Bafana and Madagascar scheduled for this coming Saturday (7 September) has been called off after the visitors (Madagascar) decided to withdraw from the encounter," the statement read.
      Zambia's university students burn the sign outside the South African Embassy in Lusaka.


      Speaking to CNN Sport, SAFA spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said the players and staff were "shocked" by the news and were "still figuring out what to do next."
      "Apparently [Madagascar] were on their way to the airport when they received a call from the government telling them that they were not allowed to board the plane for South Africa," Chimhavi said. "Naturally this is upsetting for all involved."
      Chimhavi suggested recent events in South Africa must have played a part in Madagascar's decision.
      "I think we both can guess why they've done this," he said. "It is pretty obvious what is happening in South Africa."
      In a statement on its Facebook page, the Malagasy Federation of Football said it was "honored" to be considered to play South Africa but after consultation with various agencies in the country it was deemed "wise" to decline the invitation on security grounds.
      A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest against xenophobia outside of the main gate of the South African High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria.