Matchworn (player unknown) 28.01.00 CMR 🇨🇲 : CIV 🇨🇮 3-0 (Africa Cup)
The Ivory Coast officially plays under its French name “Côte d’Ivoire”. As I’m someone who takes those details seriously, it means I regularly have to check if I spell the name correctly and put the right accents at the right places.
Despite popular belief, the Ivory Coast’s coast doesn’t actually consist of ivory, but of regular sand. Likewise, “The Elephants”, as the team is nicknamed, aren’t really trunk-carrying pachyderms, but in fact human beings.
Being one of the best footballing nations in Africa, the Ivory Coast is a regular participant in the Africa Cup and managed to win the tournament twice. In 2006 they finally accomplished to qualify for their first welcome and have been able to repeat this for two more times in 2010 and 2014.
Their biggest achievement, however, might be the teams influence on the outcome of the civil war that raged in the country during the mid-2000s, fought between the Muslim rebels in the north and the government backed Christian south. The national team, consisting of players from both sides of the country, eventually became the symbol of reunification for the country.
After winning their last qualifier against Sudan in 2005, the team sealed their first qualification for a World Cup, and while celebrating inside the dressing room, captain Didier Drogba invited the media and held an emotional speech addressed to his fellow countrymen:
"Men and women of Ivory Coast. From the north, south, centre, and west, we proved today that all Ivorians can coexist and play together with a shared aim - to qualify for the World Cup.
We promised you that the celebrations would unite the people - today we beg you on our knees. The one country in Africa with so many riches must not descend into war. Please lay down your weapons and hold elections. All will be better!”
While this obviously wasn’t the only reason why the civil war eventually ended, Drogba’s words and the team’s success are still regarded as a major contributor to the country’s reconciliation. Drogba continued to fight for political stability in his country by advising the prime minister. He also demanded that the next game after the 2005 qualifier should be held in Bouake, the biggest country in the north and stronghold of the Muslim rebels during the civil war.
Despite all the corruption we are currently witnessing in international football, this story remains a powerful example that football still contains the power to unite people.
The shirt was a lucky find on small ads. While I first wasn’t able to find a picture of the team wearing it, walking football-shirt-encyclopedia Nick sent me a picture right away. As it turned out, the jersey was only worn in a single match against Cameroon during the 2000 Africa Cup.
Although not as spectacular as its successor, the shirt by Italian manufacturer Kappa features a nice collar kept in the national colors, as well as a green ribbon with the manufacturer logo. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find out which player wore the shirt in the game.
The corresponding green home jersey was used in the remaining games of the 2000 Africa Cup. Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be an orange version of shirts, despite orange being usually the country’s home color.