Didier Drogba fails to rise to the head of Ivorian football

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Didier Drogba during the general assembly of the Ivorian Football Federation, in Yamoussoukro, on April 23, 2022.

He was not the favorite of the ballot, but the defeat is no less bitter. On Saturday April 23, Didier Drogba obtained only 16% of the votes in the first round of the election for the presidency of the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF). Arrived in third position, the ex-international was disqualified after ten hours of general meeting. A dry elimination which stunned the journalists and the relatives of the candidates present in the great hall of the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny Foundation, in Yamoussoukro. It was finally Yacine Idriss Diallo, vice-president of the Abidjan club AFAD, who won with 63 votes, against 61 for the other finalist, Sory Diabaté.

Stunned, Didier Drogba briefly congratulated the new president before getting into his car: “I wish him an excellent mandate. What else can I say? Let’s wish him good luck and accompany him in his task. » To win, the Ivorian star had to convince the majority of FIF voters, mostly 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 ” by the top “ : “He went to see the Head of State, his wife, the Minister of Sports, 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 eminent advisers in law, management and finance and by making himself more available to the Ivorian press, which he had previously neglected. He had also changed his program, promising to invest more in clubs. But his absence from the televised debate between the three candidates – he was at the same time the guest of a competing private channel – had caused a stir a few days before the election.

A pillar of local football

Didier Drogba will therefore not have been able to imitate Samuel Eto’o, elected president of the Cameroonian Football Federation (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 experienced 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 pillar of local football and the federation. Former leader of the biggest national club, ASEC Mimosas, from 1984 to 1998, he joined the FIF management team several times, notably in the 2000s as vice-president of Jacques Anouma, now an advisor. of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). “He was the best candidate, the least divisive of the three”slips a high-ranking Ivorian football authority.

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“The gathering is the basis of our vision. In division, nothing can be built.declared the new president shortly after his victory, saying he was ready to work with his two “former adversaries, who are brothers”. Its project revolves around two main axes: ” good governance “ and the “local football”. Because today, Ivorian clubs are no longer able to 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”lamented a few days before the election Adaman Nabi, president of a third division club.

A “commando team”

“They say the league is professional, but in terms of infrastructure, it sucks. 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 of 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) organized in Côte d’Ivoire, Yacine Idriss Diallo will also have to take up the international challenges that lie ahead and lead a “commando team”. Despite great players, the Elephants, African champions in 2015, were eliminated in the round of 16 of the CAN this year. Shortly before, they had failed to access the qualifying play-offs for the World Cup, a competition in which they participated three times in a row between 2006 and 2014.

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The new president of the FIF could however drag a ball and chain during his mandate: the“4 billion case” CFA francs. Senator Mariam Dao Gabala, responsible for ensuring the transition at the head of the organization after the death of President Augustin Sidy Diallo, had revealed that 4.5 billion CFA francs of unjustified expenses appeared in the accounts of the FIF between 2010 and 2020. However Yacine Idriss Diallo, who has never been officially implicated, was still in the vice-presidency in 2011. Asked about this affair during a recent televised debate, he had avoided the subject. As for the“integrity inquiry” of the three candidates in the running requested by Fifa to validate the election, it has officially given nothing.

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