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SPORTS UPDATE

Drogba waits as Ivory Coast federation elections postponed again

Elections to appoint a new president of Ivory Coast’s football federation (FIF) have been postponed once again, meaning former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba must wait yet further before finding out if he can stand.

Ongoing issues over the eligibility of candidates – including former Ivory Coast captain Drogba – have caused an 18-month delay to proceedings, with the polls originally earmarked for September 2020.

The latest polls were set to be held on 23 March but these have now been called off, without a new date being set according to BBC Sport report.

A normalisation committee appointed by world governing body Fifa has been running the game in the West African country since December 2020.

Both Fifa and the Confederation of African Football (Caf) sent a joint letter to the FIF last Friday expressing concerns about the electoral process, leading to the latest delay.

A statement by Mariam Dao Gabala, president of FIF’s normalisation committee, said the decision had been taken to “find an adequate response to the provision relating to sponsorships [backers for candidates]”.

She added the electoral process would resume “as soon as possible”.

Ivory Coast will host the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, which is scheduled to be held in June and July next year.

Drogba, who made more than 100 international appearances for the Elephants, was told in August 2020 that he and another candidate were not eligible to stand in the polls to become FIF president.

The 43-year-old had been greeted by a large crowd at FIF headquarters in Abidjan when he submitted his application.

The federation’s electoral commission ruled that Drogba and the other candidate did not meet its long list of eligibility criteria, owing to technicalities regarding those who had sponsored their nominations.

Drogba’s candidacy was rejected after two of his needed eight backers were found to have also given their support to a rival.

Fifa stepped in soon after and put a halt to the elections as it demanded to see various documents, giving Drogba hope that FIF’s decision would be reversed.

The election process was delayed again in December 2020 when Fifa installed a normalisation committee to run Ivorian football until new elections could be organised.

That mandate was initially scheduled to expire at the end of 2021, but it has been extended until the end of this month – and it appears the election process is yet to satisfy Fifa and Caf.

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