How the World Cup Stopped a War

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Long before the ball is even kicked in the tournament, the World Cup creates some of the most emotional, exhilarating, and unbelievable moments through its various qualification campaigns across the world. Beginning three years before the tournament, proper qualifiers involved more than 200 nations competing in more than 800 games that bring countries to a standstill. In 2005, the world cup stopped a war.

world cup stopped a war


Background of the matter

On the 8th of October 2005, the fallout from one match but way beyond what anyone could have foreseen. Ivory Coast traveled to Sudan for a crucial qualifier as they looked to secure their place their first World Cup. While the team was on the brink of history, the country itself was entrenched in civil war. By the time the night was over the course of a nation’s history would change forever thanks largely to the actions of one man, Didier Drogba. Addressing the country’s president live on TV and pleading for an end to a conflict isn’t something most people could even comprehend doing let alone actually follow through them.

But even before establishing himself as a bona fide legend of African football, it was clear that Drogba had the power to transcend the game itself and move into the realm of something greater. In England, fans remember him as an exceptional direct center Forward the man who always turned up for the big occasion. Even if he attracted criticism for his own pitch histrionics at times. Back home in the Ivory Coast, people consider him as a God. Not only for his achievements on the pitch but his common touch and the way he’s consistently given back to the country fought for peace.

How the world cup stopped a war

With the Ivory Coast split along ethnic, religious, and regional lines, a conflict that began in 2002 left thousands dead and over a million displaced. The tension was brewing ahead of the upcoming national election the prospect of further pain and bloodshed is a very real one. Managing to put the situation at home aside for 90 minutes, the Ivory Coast beat Sudan 3-1 to seal their place at Germany 2006. Celebrations in the dressing room were wild and sensing an opportunity captain Cyril Domoraud invited the media inside. He then grabbed the microphone and handed it to Drogba, the star of the team, national poster boy.

Drogba found the first camera stared down it and pleaded.

’’Men and women of Ivory Coast, from north, south, centre, and west. We proved today that we all Ivorians can coexist and play together to qualify for the world cup. We promised that the celebration would unite people. Today we beg you. Please… Forgive, Forgive. One country in Africa with so many riches must not descend into war like this. Please, lay down all weapons. Organize election, all will be better.”


world cup stopped a war

The election took place without any bloodshed. By the time Domoraud lined up for their first ever World Cup match in the summer of 2006, the Civil War had ended. The role Drogba speech played in uniting the country, was amazing. The world cup stopped a war, it sure did! Drogba’s efforts have contributed hugely to the country’s great strides towards becoming a stable democratic society and for all his incredible success on the pitch that remains his greatest achievement.

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