The expulsion from Ivory Coast of Sofia Benlemmane, an Algerian influencer with uninhibited racism, is the “best goal of the CAN”, rejoiced Thursday January 18 on the social network X (formerly Twitter), Abdallah Benadouda , host of the Algerian pirate channel Radio Corona Internationale. A decision welcomed by many Internet users exasperated by the crude and hateful speeches of certain Fennecs supporters present in Ivory Coast for the African Football Cup of Nations (CAN).

Familiar with excesses and scandals, Sofia Benlemmane is known to have joined the Algerian national team, which she accompanies everywhere by multiplying videos of exacerbated chauvinism. On Sunday, after arriving in Ivory Coast, she filmed herself criticizing the competition’s host country: “Algerians need to know how they live here. We thank God for having a country like Algeria. Normally, Algeria should be located between Portugal and Spain. Because here, they live in poverty. It is an understatement to say that they live in the prehistoric era. If I could, I would send the Algerians to see how people live in Ivory Coast. »

In an Algeria already depressed by the bad start of the Fennecs, held in check by Angola during their first match (1-1), Monday, the exit of the “mad cow”, according to the formula of an Algerian journalist in anger, aroused general nausea. And outraged reactions in Ivory Coast and other African countries. According to Algerian media, the Algerian embassy in Abidjan itself recommended to the Ivorian authorities to arrest and expel him.

Many hope that this umpteenth scandal will permanently distance the supporter from the players. Sofia Benlemmane, who also has French nationality, made history in October 2001 as one of those who invaded the pitch at the Stade de France, where a friendly match between the Blues and the Greens was taking place. A feat of arms which earned him a suspended prison sentence in France.

“Breaking Teeth” by Samuel Eto’o

During the Hirak, the popular movement which led to the overthrow of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, she stood out again in a video by threatening her husband with divorce because he had voted for Abdelmadjid Tebboune during the presidential election of December 2019. These criticisms against the Algerian leader did not prevent her from being treated as a VIP: hosted in a five-star hotel in Oran for the Mediterranean Games in July 2022, she was even invited to present medals to athletes.

In November of the same year, she was arrested in Gambia for seeking to meet referee Bakary Gassama, whom she accused, like many other Algerian supporters, of having been paid to favor the Indomitable Lions during the match. Algeria-Cameroon which deprived the Fennecs of qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar. She also attacked former international Samuel Eto’o, president of the Cameroonian Football Federation, threatening to “knock out his teeth”.

Upon her arrival in Algiers on Thursday, Sofia Benlemmane posted a video on Instagram explaining that she had stayed “fifty hours” at the Ivorian Directorate of Territorial Surveillance, where she was allegedly told that she had to leave the Côte d’Ivoire. Ivory for its own safety. She claimed to have only “noted” the problems and regretted that her remarks had been “diverted”. In a passage in Arabic, she indicates that the video was intended for the Algerian people so that they “consider themselves happy with the benefits they benefit from in their country”.

The expelled supporter is part of a cohort of influencers whose outrageous nationalism and vulgarity have caused disgust in Algeria and sub-Saharan Africa. Outings like that of an Algerian supporter declaring from Bouaké, where the Fennecs play: “Our country is better than yours, 900,000 times”; or another harassing Ivorian women and calling passers-by “slaves”. Slippages are rarely sanctioned by the Algerian authorities, yet quick to pursue dissenting voices.