It is no longer news that Cote d’Ivoire’s football legend, Didier Drogba, yesterday lost his bid to become the president of the Fédération Ivoirienne de Football (FIF). After the first round of the polls, Drogba had 21 votes. His opponents Yacine Idriss Diallo and Sory Diabate had 59 and 50 votes respectively. The second round of voting saw Diallo squaring up against Diabate and it was Diallo who emerged as FIF president with 63 votes to Diabate’s 61. Drogba had tried in the past to lead FIF but did not receive the required support from clubs, players’ union and coaches’ association whose support he needed to get on the ballot. A FIFA induced change in statues and electoral code enabled Drogba to be on the ballot this time.
There has been clamour for former footballers to head their respective country’s football association. The argument has been that they would understand very well what the players (and indeed all aspects of football development) would need to progress positively. It is also believed that these former footballers, especially the iconic ones and national heroes, would command respect in football circles anywhere in the world. There are some examples of how former footballers turned FA presidents has performed well in Africa.
Kalusha Bwalya, former Zambian footballer and 1988 African Footballer of the Year, led the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) between 2008 and 2016. Bwalya was nominated for the 1996 FIFA World Player of the Year where he was voted the 12th best player in the world, the first to be nominated after playing the entire year for a non European club. During his tenure, Zambia won their first and only African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2012 against a highly talented Ivorian side captained by Drogba.
Samuel Eto’o, former Cameroonian footballer and four time winner of African Footballer of the Year award recently became the president of Fédération Camerounaise de Football (FECAFOOT) after winning election in December 2021. Eto’o is unarguably the most decorated African footballer winiing so many team and individual laurels. He has brought much enthusim already. Although they did not win the AFCON they hosted early this year (they got the bronze medal), but his rapport with the national team players (both males and females) and indeed fans is not in doubt. The Indomitable Lions also qualified for the 2022 World Cup at the expense of Algeria despite losing the first leg 1-0 at home.
It may not be known, at least for now, how Drogba would have fared as FIF president but those who believe that the brand and status of the former Marseille, Chelsea and Galatasaray player would have brought good fortunes are not few. Like Drogba, Nigeria’s Segun Odegbami has had a failed bid to head the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), so also John Fashanu (although he played his international football for Engalnd rather than Nigeria). Calls keep growing for former footballers to take over affairs of football management across Africa. Most Nigerians will like to see the likes of two time BBC African Footballer of the Year and FIFA 100’s Austin Jay Jay Okocha and two time African Footballer of the Year Nwankwo Kanu manage the NFF some day. Uganda’s Denis Obua, Tanzania’s Leodgar Tenga, Congo’s Jean-Michael M’Bono and Malawi’s Walter Nyamilandu are other former African footballers that have headed their countries football associations.
Drogba’s opponents yesterday are not new comers to football. New president Diallo was FIF’s 3rd Vice President in charge of Marketing and Promotion. He was also chairman of 27 time Ivorian champions ASEC Mimosa. The other contestant, Diabate is the outgoing FIF’s 1st Vice President and President of the Professional Football League. Drogba may still get his chance in the future but for now, it is congratulations to Yacine Idriss Diallo, a trained mathematician, former civil servant, businessman and sports administrator.
© NaijaSportsCrib – April 2022.