Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto, these football stars running for head of African federations

Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto, these football stars running for head of African federations

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Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o during a press conference in Saint-Grétien near Paris in May 2010.

They are three years apart, have played in major European clubs and have won several collective and individual titles. Forwards Samuel Eto’o (Cameron) and Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) have also earned a lot of money during their careers. They could take advantage of their retirement from the sport to manage their affairs and follow football news remotely… although both have opted to run for the presidency of the associations of their respective countries of birth, where There will be an election. December.

Didier Drogba, 43, announced his desire in 2019 to succeed Augustin Sidi Diallo, who died on November 21, 2020, as the head of the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) after contracting COVID-19. Facing him, the former Elephants captain will meet Sori Diabet and Idris Diallo, who were both vice-presidents of the FIF.

read also Didier Drogba’s turbulent quest to join the presidency of Ivorian football

In Cameroon, the candidacy of Samuel Eto’o was formally received on 22 September. In 2018, the former captain of the national team supported the current president of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFT), Seidou Mbombo Njoya, who is expected to stand for re-election. Two other formerly untamed lions, Jules Onana and Emmanuel Maboang, are also applying.

Both run campaigns on similar topics, such as promoting professional championships, developing women’s football, youth competitions or better governance. Very popular in public opinion and the press, he also has a certain amount of sympathy with the electorate, which is made up of various football families (players, coaches, referees, etc.). However, guaranteeing him election to the chair is a far cry.

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“Not just friends between footballers”

Didier Drogba thus experienced a great deal of hesitation by failing to rally the Association of Ivorian Footballers (AFI) to his candidacy, although he is a founding member. The AFI criticized him for his lack of commitment to Ivorian football. “He pursued a career in Europe, China and the United States, and when he returned to Ivory Coast, it was for selection matches or in a private capacity. He did not follow the local football situation very closely. Depending on the circumstances, he more careful today, looks at a retired player. Drogba doesn’t just have friends among footballers. Some people like him, but others find him too cold or too individualistic. ,

opposite of this, Samuel Eto’o has often shown a genuine interest in football in his native country. “He personally joined so that Cameroon would retain the organization of CAN. [Coupe d’Afrique des nations] in 2022 », notes Claude Jabia Bekombo, coordinator of the Center for Research on Sport in Africa in Yeounde. For several months, Samuel Ito’o has been doing a lot of travel, meeting and consulting. He investigates several former Cameroonian internationals to persuade them to support him – whom some have approached. world africa, still hesitate to do. “Eto’o had conflicts with teammates and everyone has not forgotten them”, an ancient indomitable lion slips.

read also Cameroon: Samuel Eto’o announces his candidacy for the presidency of Fakafut

Both the attackers have different personalities. Didier Drogba is not used to breaking statements, unlike his younger brother, who is known to say out loud what he thinks. The Ivorians have always kept their distance from the media, while the Cameroonians are more inclined to expose themselves. Samuel Ato’O, however, chose to communicate his candidacy in a very calculative manner. “He has a team, a website, but he is particularly active in discussions between different players in local football. At the moment, he prefers it to a TV show, a newspaper or on the radio”, Chase of Claude Zabia Becombo.

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opposite of this, “We hear very little Drogba: his name and his aura won’t be enough to convince voters, even if it’s not supporters and journalists who vote”, said Cay Oulus, president of the Association of Football Coaches and Teachers of Cte d’Ivoire. Some of his relatives have advised him, for the time being without success, to better sell his show.

attract foreign investors

Both candidates rely heavily on their celebrity and their networks to attract voters’ votes. Samuel Eto’o such as Didier Drogba believe they can open up local football to foreign investors and thus obtain funding for development projects.

But according to Salif Biktogo, president of Stella Club d’Adjame (a Ligue 1 team based in Abidjan), being a star does not guarantee that private money will flow into the federation’s coffers: “Drogba has identified the need and believes it can provide a solution by highlighting its reputation for attracting new economic partners capable of generating income. But it is the investment for her beautiful eyes. Will not. They will expect something in return.”

read also In Cameroon, the football world is preparing for CAN in an environment of institutional crisis

The two men, who entered the business long before the end of their athletic careers, are used to negotiating and signing financial contracts. Enough to turn the scales in their favor? “There is a new regime in the CAF [Confédération africaine de football], with a billionaire president [le Sud-Africain Patrice Motsepe], And we can imagine that this body encourages some former players to take responsibilities in their countries with fiber to trade, an Ivorian journalist slips. To bring people in key positions in big federations closer to their ideas…”

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