Cancellation of soccer event due to clash between two groups on field, prompt response by Edmonton tactical unit
Sunday, August 20, 2023
A clash erupted between protesters opposing the Eritrean government (depicted in blue) and pro-government Eritrean supporters at the Rosslyn Park soccer fields on Saturday, August 19, 2023. This incident disrupted an annual Edmonton soccer tournament, which aimed to promote world peace and an inclusive community. Due to the rain, the entire tournament had to be cancelled, except for one location that became a battleground for conflicting groups. The Edmonton city police tactical unit had to intervene to restore order.
The tournament was scheduled to take place at Queen Elizabeth High School and Grand Trunk Park. It involved teams from various countries, such as Mexico, Namibia, Somalia, Congo, Brazil, El Salvador, Gambia, and Burundi, with the championship game set for Sunday evening. Organized by Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Captain Abdull, the event has been rescheduled for the following weekend.
Around noon on Saturday, clashes broke out between two groups from Eritrea near Grand Trunk Park. One group supported the Eritrean government, while the other opposed it. This volatile situation necessitated the deployment of the tactical unit, as some individuals involved were armed with wooden sticks. Approximately 400 people were part of the clash, and a few suffered minor injuries.
By early afternoon, the police issued a news release warning citizens to stay away from the area near 132 Avenue and 113A Street. Although the law enforcement authorities ordered everyone to leave, many disregarded the instructions. Just before 2 p.m., over 80 police officers arrived to separate the two opposing groups.
At around 4 p.m., the police reported that one person had been assaulted with an object and was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Ten more individuals involved in the altercation sought medical treatment for minor injuries. While the investigation is ongoing, no arrests have been made.
Later, around 6 p.m., another group of police officers formed a barrier line to separate protesters near 34 Avenue and 93 Street. Nearby, at the Maharaja banquet hall on 9257 34A Ave., windows were shattered, and several cars suffered damage.
Abdull, the long-time organizer of the Canada World Peace Soccer Tournament, expressed his sadness and disappointment over the violence that occurred at the tournament’s intended location. He emphasized that the true purpose of the event is to foster a sense of community, appreciation, love, and peace. Abdull established the tournament to celebrate the beauty of Canada and all the opportunities it provides, and he strongly believes that conflicts from other countries should not be imported onto Canadian soil.
He conveyed his desire to give back to Canada, highlighting how it has been a remarkable country, offering great opportunities in terms of employment, education, and sports. For Abdull, the focus should be on promoting peace and gratitude.
Despite the unfortunate events, the Canada World Peace Team and the city police team are still scheduled to compete against each other on Sunday, August 27, building on the tradition they started last year.
— With additional information from David Bloom