‘Football only unifying force in Ivory Coast’

Former Chelsea and Ivory Coast talisman Didier Drogba says his sport 'brings the whole country together'.

    ‘Football only unifying force in Ivory Coast’
    Ivory Coast star Drogba joined Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua from European Champions Chelsea this season, but is now being linked with a move to Juventus [EPA]

    Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba said on Monday that he believes that football is the only unifying force in his war-torn country.

    "The national team means a lot to this country. I think that today - and I choose my words carefully here - it is Cote d'Ivoire's only unifying force," Drogba said in an interview with FIFA.com.

    "All our ethnic groups are now represented in the team - Baoules, Betes, and so on. They are all there.

    "So there's a complete cross-section in the Cote d'Ivoire team and I think that it's the only good example there is today."

    The 34-year-old continued: "Of course, there are other sports in Cote d'Ivoire, but football is currently the most popular one, and it's the sport that brings the whole country together in my view, whereas in everyday life that isn't necessarily the case."

    Drogba, who joined Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua from English giants Chelsea this season, believes things have evolved in his country where he once played an international match in a stadium where there were rocket launchers and weapons.

    "It surprised us and was because of the situation at the time, when the country was in a state of crisis," he explained.

    "It's part of our history, the history of Cote d'Ivoire, but things have changed since then, lots of things have happened. We're trying to move forward, we're trying to get back on our feet, to show people through football that we can live together."

    And the Ivory Coast captain, who is the all-time top scorer in the national team, admitted that it would be a dream to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

    "It would be massive to qualify for the World Cup, for a small country like Cote d'Ivoire, a country that had never taken part (before 2006)," he said.

    "And if it happened, we would certainly be aiming higher than finishing third in our group."

    Drogba's side will play a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Senegal on October 13.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.