Pele and Drogba – The two footballers who halted a Civil war (Part 2)
The story of how Pele halted the Nigerian Civil war is one reader should have found fascinating, educative and informative in terms of how effective football can and has been when it comes to Conflict resolution. In case you’ve not read it click: Pele and Drogba – The two footballers who halted a Civil war.
Here in this article, we take a look at how the Chelsea legend Didier Drogba halted a civil war in Ivory Coast.
Drogba and the Ivory Coast ceasefire
After Ivory Coast and Drogba had qualified for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, whilst the celebration that ensured then wards, Drogba couldn’t get his mind off the Civil war raging in his home nation since 2002. It didn’t take long for Drogba’s attention to turn to the chaos tormenting his nation.
The fight which broke out on 19 September 2002 with rebels attacking various cities across the country had Sebastien Gnahore, an ex-footballer who fled Ivory Coast, recall that;
“It was awful. When I called my sister I could hear the shooting outside the house,” he says. “They all hid under the bed for four days, and only came out to find food.
“All I cared about was whether my family was going to be OK. That’s the only worry I had each morning.”
“People rode on top of cars, weapons slipped from the grasp of excited soldiers. Inside the stadium itself, government and rebel troops hurled football chants back and forth. It was a marked change from the violence of the recent past.
“It felt like more than just football,” recalls a journalist in Abidjan.
A very successful match for the Ivory Coast team who defeated Madagascar 5-0. In the manner that a Disney movie would end, the victory which was capped by a fine goal from Drogba sparked a wild celebration across the whole of Ivory Coast.
Drogba as the spokesman and leader of the Ivory Coast national team had brought peace to Ivory Coast.
“It was euphoria across the whole country, everybody came together,” says Gnahore. “We had so much hope in Drogba and his team. The Toures from the north, Drogba from the south. It was a true Ivorian mosaic.”
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