Soccer’s Didier Drogba rues Ivory Coast violence

Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba says the national soccer team

wants an end to the violence that has turned the West African

country into ”something we don’t want to see.”

More than 400 people are believed to have been killed by forces

loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to cede power. Alassane

Ouattara is recognized as the legitimate president by governments

around the world. The long-delayed elections in November were meant

to unify a country divided by civil war since 2002.

”We as the national team, we sent a letter – a message – to the

different actors there and that is the maximum we can do at the

moment. Political problems shouldn’t create this kind of damage,”

Drogba said from the Barcelona Global Sports Forum.

”Ivory Coast has never been like this. Politics is turning the

country into something we don’t want to see. It’s just sad, sad.

But at the same time we tried something to help the country.”

The letter was delivered to all sides in December, but little

has come of it.

”Now it’s time for the main actors to do something,” Drogba

said. ”We did our part and they have to remember that the most

important thing is to remember the population. What else do you

want us to do? The situation is where it is, but I think it can

change and we can find a solution.”

Drogba, a star striker for Chelsea in the English Premier

League, has helped quell political strife in his country before and

is regarded as something of a peace figure. He says he has no

intention of entering politics after his soccer career. Instead, he

is concentrating on building hospitals through his foundation.

”Politics is not for me. Too many problems,” he said. ”I like

my position. If I decide to help I always try to do positive things

and people will judge me from my acts and not because I’m from this

party or another.”

Ivory Coast is scheduled to play in its capital of Abidjan on

March 25, facing Benin in an African Cup of Nations qualifier.

Drogba can’t say if the game will be moved, but he hopes a victory

over Benin would at least provide some positive news.

”We know the power of football,” he said. ”We all hope the

impact of this game will be big and enough for us to give people a

little joy in this hard time.”