‘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

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    We travel more than 2,000km and visit communities along the route of the oil pipeline that cuts across Indigenous land.

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women married to ISIL fighters share accounts of being made to watch executions and strap explosives to other women.

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    The story of Ali Reza Monfared, the Iranian who tried to buy diplomatic immunity after embezzling millions of dollars.