Disquiet in the Elephants’ camp

If the last few days have revealed that there’s something seriously wrong with the way world football is managed, it’s also seen revelations of a similar sort in the Ivorian game. It’s been worrying to see the damage done by the Afcon missing bonuses affair. This week star defender Serge Aurier spoke out to Jeune Afrique saying that he was sad to see coach Herve Renard leave the Ivorian national team for Lille: “The problem is that the federation [FIF] has done nothing to keep him. He wasn’t given all that he needed to work. In some ways, he was forced to take this decision [to leave]…One has the impression that there are some people in Cote d’Ivoire who think more of their own interests rather than the collective.”

He went on to say: “There are some people – among the people who manage Ivorian football – who don’t respect the team and all that we did in Equatorial Guinea. We put in effort to bring back the Afcon trophy and where is the gratitude?”

“This issue of the bonuses and the departure of Renard makes me think twice. I have no desire to come and play for the Elephants and be troubled by these sorts of problems. We’ve been betrayed by certain people.”

The signs are that not-so-hidden beneath the surface the Ivorian game is badly run. At one level you have the big games, with the big international stars, and a top coach. But below that the other national teams don’t perform nearly as well. It would have been great to have Herve Renard stay on and develop the local game. The local derby of Asec v Africa Sport will finish in the next few minutes in Abidjan but without the massive crowds this fixture used to attract. Ivorian club teams no longer create much fear on a continental level, even compared to what they used to achieve during the political crisis when finances were especially tight.

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