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Congolese Footballer Banned by Rwanda’s Rayon Sports Amid War Gesture Controversy

The gesture involved covering his mouth with his left hand while pointing his fingers to his temple, mimicking a gun, after scoring from a free-kick during Sunday's match against Police FC.

Congolese footballer Heritier Luvumbu has returned to his home country following a political gesture that seemingly led to his departure from a prominent Rwandan club.

RaPolitical gesturesyon Sports announced the departure of the midfielder stating they have “parted ways” with him. Luvumbu faced a six-month ban over a gesture expressing solidarity with war victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo, prompting his exit from the club.

The gesture involved covering his mouth with his left hand while pointing his fingers to his temple, mimicking a gun, after scoring from a free-kick during Sunday’s match against Police FC.

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This act mirrored a similar gesture made by DR Congo’s national team before their Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against Ivory Coast, calling for peace in the troubled eastern region of DR Congo.

The M23 rebel group’s recent surge in violence in eastern DR Congo has prompted widespread concern, with accusations leveled against Rwanda for backing the group. Rwanda has consistently denied these allegations.

Luvumbu’s gesture drew attention to the crisis, but it also led to his club denouncing his actions as “bad conduct.”

Rwanda’s Football Association subsequently suspended Luvumbu from playing for six months, citing its prohibition of political symbols or words in football.

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Rayon Sports later announced the termination of Luvumbu’s contract by mutual agreement.

DR Congo’s Sports Ministry confirmed Luvumbu’s return to his home country on the same day, with photos shared on Facebook showing him meeting the sports minister.

Luvumbu joined Rayon Sports in 2021 from Moroccan club Youssoufia Berrechid, and his contract was renewed last August for one year.

Before his stint in Rwanda, Luvumbu played for AS Vita Club, one of the oldest football clubs in Kinshasa, DR Congo, founded in 1935.

The incident underscores the intersection of sports and politics and the impact of gestures on international relations and individual careers.

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