Didier Drogba fails to reach the head of Ivorian football

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Didier Drogba at the General Assembly of the Ivorian Football Federation, in Yamoussoukro, on April 23, 2022.

He was not the favorite of the vote, but the defeat is no less bitter. On Saturday, April 23, Didier Drogba won just 16% of the vote in the first round of the election for the presidency of the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF). Arriving in third place, the ex-international was disqualified after ten hours of general meeting. A dry elimination that stunned the journalists and the relatives of the candidates who were present in the main hall of the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny Foundation, in Yamoussoukro. In the end, it was Yacine Idriss Diallo, vice president of the Abidjan club AFAD, who won by 63 votes, against 61 for the other finalist, Sory Diabaté.

Stunned, Didier Drogba congratulated the new president shortly before getting into his car: “I wish him an excellent mandate. What more can I say? Let’s wish him every success and guide him in his task. » To win, the Ivorian star had to convince the majority of FIF voters, mainly club presidents. But the former captain of the Elephants met these notables too late, which tarnished his image. According to sports journalist Fernand Dédeh, he was wrong to start his campaign “at the top”“He went to the head of state, his wife, the sports minister, certain partners, as if to impress and show that he had the authorities with him. Only in this election it is the field that makes the leader. †

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In recent weeks, Didier Drogba had tried to catch up by surrounding himself with leading legal, management and finance advisers and making himself more available to the Ivorian press, which he had previously neglected. He had also changed his schedule and promised to invest more in clubs. But his absence from the televised debate between the three candidates – he was a guest on a competing private channel at the same time – had caused a stir a few days before the election.

A pillar of local football

So Didier Drogba will not have been able to imitate Samuel Eto’o, elected president of the Cameroon Football Association (Fecafoot) in December 2021. “Life is made up of learning and trials. Didier Drogba is a champion, I know he will recover very quickly from this small defeat, he has been through others. assures former PSG striker Bonaventure Kalou, a member of the new president’s team: “He learns quickly, he said, I’m glad he tried to carry out his project. †

Unlike Didier Drogba, Yacine Idriss Diallo, 61, is a mainstay of local football and federation. Former leader of the largest national club, ASEC Mimosas, from 1984 to 1998, he joined the FIF management team several times, most notably in the 2000s as vice president to Jacques Anouma, now advisor to the Confederation of African Football (CAF). “He was the best candidate, the least divisive of the three”eludes a high-ranking Ivorian football authority.

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“The meeting is the basis of our vision. Nothing can be built in division.declared the new president shortly after his victory and said he was ready to work in pairs “former opponents, who are brothers”† Her project revolves around two main axes: “good governance” and the “local football”† Because today Ivorian clubs can no longer compete with other African teams in continental competitions. The low salaries, often paid late, and the very precarious living conditions of the players are not unrelated to this. “Look at the physique of our players, they are all skinny”Adaman Nabi, president of a third division club, complained a few days before the election.

A “command team”

“They say the competition is professional, but in terms of infrastructure it is worthless. How many clubs have their own training ground? There is also no physio, a player who is injured cannot be operated on. We ask them to think about the youth,” alert Stéphane Kouyo, a former player of the Ivorian Championship, support of Didier Drogba.

Fourteen months before the African Cup of Nations (CAN) to be hosted in Ivory Coast, Yacine Idriss Diallo will also have to face the international challenges and “command team”† Despite great players, the Elephants, African champions in 2015, were eliminated this year in the round of 16 of the CAN. Shortly before that, they were denied access to the qualifying play-offs for the World Cup, a competition in which they competed three times in a row between 2006 and 2014.

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However, the new president of the FIF was able to fizzle out during his mandate: the“4 billion case” CFA francs. Senator Mariam Dao Gabala, responsible for the transition to head the organization after the death of President Augustin Sidy Diallo, had revealed that CFA 4.5 billion in unwarranted spending had appeared in the FIF’s accounts between 2010 and 2020. Yacine Idriss Diallo, who has never been officially involved, was still in the vice presidency in 2011. Asked about this affair during a recent televised debate, he had shunned the subject. Concerning the“integrity investigation” of the three candidates in the running who have been asked by FIFA to validate the election, it has officially given nothing.

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