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Football Rebels

Didier Drogba and the Ivorian civil war

How the former Chelsea star and Ivory Coast forward used the power of football to end his country's civil war.

Last updated: 13 Mar 2013 11:56
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As the global sporting world faces one corruption scandal after another, former Manchester United star Eric Cantona presents the stories of five football heroes whose social conscience led them to challenge unjust regimes, join opposition movements and lead the fight for democracy and human rights. Football Rebels looks at a side of football that does not always make the headlines.

For popular sportsman Didier Drogba football is more than just mass entertainment - it is about honour and doing what is right.

"Society is so sick that courage now seems exceptional. Walking all over other people, crushing other men, that's what should shock us. Being an idol ... shouldn't prevent you from looking reality in the face. Being a man ... is far more important than being a champion."

- Eric Cantona

Drogba was at the height of his career when his country, the Ivory Coast, was being destroyed by civil war.

"I left Cote d’Ivoire with a certain image: It was beautiful, its streets were lovely, there was greenery everywhere and people were happy. And when I came back a few years later, I saw a real change. That's when I started asking myself questions," Drogba says.

Using his fame as a tool for social change Drogba decided to act to save his country by appealing to politicians, warring factions and his own people for peace.

After Didier Drogba helped the Ivory Coast team qualify for the 2006 World Cup, he challenged President Gbagbo to end the civil war. He made a desperate plea to the combatants, asking them to lay down their arms, a plea which was answered with a ceasefire after five years of civil war.

Drogba says: "Inside, we wanted all that stuff to stop. When you play a match and you're surrounded by rocket-launchers ... okay, that's for the president's security, fine. But you're playing with rocket-launchers everywhere. We wanted to play in a more relaxed atmosphere again. So after that game, we were euphoric, and someone whispered in my ear that it was the right time to put out a message. Then we just improvised."

 

Football Rebels - Didier Drogba and the Ivorian Civil War can be seen at the following times GMT: 10 June 22:30, 11 June 09:30, 12 June 03:30, 13 June 16:30, 14 June 22:30, 15 June 09:30, 16 June 03:30, 17 June 16:30

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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