Unprofessional Foul


January 5, 2011

Feet Planted in Europe, But Heart at Home

Some African Footballers Have More to Worry About Than We Think

Unless you’re still poring over the revelations from Wikileaks, you might have heard about the impending civil war in Côte d’Ivoire since President Laurent Gbagbo refuses to step down after losing the recent presidential election. If you are curious, here’s a decent update on the situation. Otherwise, just know that avoidance of further bloodshed isn’t promising at the moment.

The relevance to football comes from an interview with Ivorian defender Guy Demel of Hamburg SV. While training in Dubai with his fellow Hamburglars, Demel made mention of his concerns for family back home.

Having a grandmother, aunt, and cousins still living in the potential battleground of Abidjan, the Hamburg RB is staying current on events in the former capital via text messages and is ready to fly those relatives out of the nation if he’s able.

Staying at a relatively comfortable resort in Dubai, Demel says ” I’m afraid for my family and country.”

Obviously, there are many in a similar situation to Demel so this won’t be turned into a pity party for rich footballers. However, this admission of fear and uncertainty for the safety of loved ones should give us a moment for reflection. Swimming amongst the sea of scandal, corruption, and cold-blooded business calculation of today’s international football, there is still a small trickling stream of humanity.

John Terry and his family’s douchebaggery have desensitized us to domestic issues. When Wayne Rooney declares he wants to leave Manchester United—but goes quiet when he’s given even more money—we become absolute cynics.

After Rooney’s bit of slime, when someone like Carlos Tevez says he might leave Citeh because he’s homesick, we ponder what manipulative magic his jerk agent is using just to get more money. When it was reported that Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry had yet to forgo their World Cup bonuses, we likely assumed it was a petulant parting shot at the Les Bleus rather than a simple mistake from the players’ accountants.

You see what I’m getting at—the wankers of world footie might have blinded us a bit and we tend to neglect legitimate off-field concerns. With respect to the impending civil war, Demel’s fellow Ivorian Didier Drogba called for all responsible “to make every effort to restore the calm and responsible democracy that our nation is waiting for.” Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o has echoed Drogba’s call for peace—in part owing to the fact that his wife is Ivorian and likely has family in the danger zone as well.

Drogba is widely credited with bringing a bit of peace to the nation prior to the 2006 World Cup and remains committed to giving back—even Ashley Cole stopped being self-absorbed for a moment to mention Drogba’s charitable works.

Now that’s something.

Perhaps international players like Drogba, Eto’o, Demel, and Citeh’s Kolo Toure can bring media pressure to bear and help the West African state avoid another bloody civil conflict. And if they are, that means likely that their minds might not be as focused on football as they normally would.

So if one of these lads misses a sitter or gets turned by his man and gives up a cheap foul, maybe cut him a break for a bit if he costs your club or your fantasy team points—his thoughts might be on whether he gets to see some of his relatives again if they end up in the wrong place at the wrong time in Abidjan.

Okay, now back to regular posting—somebody needs to post some gratuitous cleavage ASAP.

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