Rwanda: Suspension of a Congolese Player Over Solidarity with the People in Eastern Congo

Héritier Nzinga Luvumbu, a forward for the Rwandan football club Rayon Sports, has been suspended for six months by the Rwandan Football Federation (FERWAFA), making him ineligible for team activities, including the preparation for the upcoming quarter-final match of the Peace Cup scheduled for Wednesday, February 14. This suspension was announced after Luvumbu did not appear in the team’s training session in Nzove on Tuesday afternoon, where the rest of the players showed up for practice ahead of their next game, following an incident during a recent match that drew widespread attention.

The controversy stems from Luvumbu’s actions during the 20th matchday of the championship at Kigali Stadium in Nyamirambo, where after scoring a goal for Rayon Sports, he celebrated by covering his mouth and pointing to his head with the other hand, mimicking a gun. This gesture is recognized as a symbol of solidarity with the people in the eastern region of Congo, who have been suffering from insecurity issues allegedly linked to Rwanda, as reported by the United Nations and several Western countries including European nations and the United States.

Rayon Sports issued a statement distancing themselves from Luvumbu’s actions, indicating a non-endorsement of the player’s public political statement. Despite the club not specifying any immediate suspension of the player, sources within Rayon Sports expressed dissatisfaction with Luvumbu’s conduct, suggesting a potential permanent separation.

FERWAFA’s decision to suspend Luvumbu from all football activities in Rwanda for six months was communicated through an official statement.