By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | 12 February 2024 (IDN) — Over the last few weeks, more than a million tourists filled the streets of Abidjan, economic capital of the Ivory Coast, eager to cheer their team in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Eye-catching posters and billboards called attention to the Elephants, the Ivorian home team, facing off against their old rival, the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The host country, after a humiliating loss to Equatorial Guinea, airlifted a replacement coach at the last minute. Emerse Fae had never managed a senior game before, yet he found himself parachuted into the most high-pressure job on the continent.
After a few losses, Ivory Coast enjoyed a knockout win against defending champions Senegal. The tide turned. The Elephants thundered to victory — sweeping away Mali, then the DR Congo.
Much was owed to goalscorer Sebastien Haller who, 18 months ago, was hospitalized for a testicular tumor which was treated and removed. Haller returned last year after his cancer diagnosis with boots reading “F**k Cancer”. Now, with that same right foot, he delivered AFCON glory.
In the 81st minute with just under 10 minutes to play, the score tied at 1-1, Haller sent the ball flying home and the new Alassane Ouattara Stadium went wild.
Olympic Stadium of Empire
The game was held in the new 60,000 seat Alassane Ouattara Stadium, also known as the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe. The so-named 2023 Africa Cup, was actually played in 2024. The earlier date was postponed due to adverse weather in the host country.
Earlier in the week, the national team of Congo held a protest, with players holding right hands in front of their mouths and two fingers to the temples to spotlight armed violence taking place in their country.
“It was a message to show support to the victims,” said manager Sebastien Desabre, “to notify people that there are indeed (bad) things happening in the east and it is necessary to shed light on them.”
All the excitement did not diminish concerns by the government of a tsunami of trash left by visitors. A cleanliness initiative, promoted by Environment Minister Jacques Assahore Konan, urged fans to “think environment” during the games and adopt “environmentally responsible behavior.”
“Although changes in behavior take time, people are beginning to get the message,” said Ministry official Gustave Aboua of Le Monde media. The deployment of 10,000 young volunteers to manage the fan zones does not compensate for the absence of trash cans and the presence of cars everywhere.
Co-founder of Green Ivory and a UNICEF Youth Advocate
Kherann Yao, co-founder of Green Ivory and a Unicef Youth Advocate, called the initiatives “too timid.” “Stadiums remain lit day and night if there are games going on or not. . The record is mixed for a country that aims to become a champion in the fight against global warming,” he said.
The event’s sponsor, TotalEnergies, with a presence in some 40 African countries, has been accused by Greenpeace Africa and other environmental NGOs of “greenwashing” to conceal the “climate bombs” generated by their oil and gas activities.
In partnership with Kick Polluters out and Magamba Network, a video of Zimbabwean comedian Munashe Chirisa and Bafta award winning writer Jolyon Rubinstein shows the company as exploiting AFCON’s millions of global viewers to boost its image, while continuing to profit from climate-wrecking fossil fuel extraction across the continent.
“Total’s logo will be shimmering on banners, jerseys, and other merchandise – over a story of environmental pollution, disregard for human rights, and a marketing strategy that can only be described as sportswashing,” Greenpeace Africa said in a release.” [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Ivory Coast “Elephants”. Source: Vision of Humanity
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