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Edinburgh set for invasion of African 'Superfans'

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31 January 2008

 

Leaders of the Eritrean ex-patriot community in Britain attended a full meeting of the Edinburgh 2008 World Cross Country Organising Committee earlier this week. Under discussion were the plans for spectator access and venue security for the event in Holyrood Park on Sunday 30 March.

 

The startling news was that the number of Eritrean travelling supporters could be more than 400. It is expected that this may be matched by the Ethiopian supporters contingent.

 

Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea will defend his men’s World title in front of what is anticipated could be a crowd of 10,000. Admission is free.

 

The East African fans are noted for their lively and colourful support but have been known to enter the finish line area in their enthusiasm to get close to Tadese, who has a national standing in Eritrea in excess of David Beckham’s in the UK.

 

Edinburgh 2008 Competitions Manager Alex Jackson explained:

 

"We understand the need for the Eritrean supporters to be physically close to their hero. We have agreed that Marien Yassin and one of the other community leaders will be given VIP accreditation passes and an opportunity to present Zersenay Tadese with his national flag and flowers once he is clear of the line. In return we are expecting that the other fans will remain in – and respect - the spectator zones, and will set our security measures accordingly. The final awards ceremony will be close to them so it will be an extraordinary occasion if Tadese manages to pick up another medal. The intention is to match this gesture for the travelling Ethiopian support, if we can make a similar contact."

 

It is also expected that Eritrea will feature strongly in the recently launched Adopt-a-Nation Programme for schools and clubs.

 

Full details are available at Edinburgh 2008