11 April 2011

Salomon Kalou on Côte d'Ivoire

Chelsea Striker and Ivorian, Salomon Kalou, discusses how the conflict in his home nation has impacted him and the concerns he has for his family in The Guardian.

"It's very hard to go on to the pitch and say I'm not thinking about people dying every day, I'm not thinking about my friends not eating, my dad not getting help," Kalou says. "To be honest, I worry every day. I am thinking more about that than anything else. Any chance I have to go on the phone or to go on the news and check I do, because that's my main priority. I need to make sure my family are safe.

"I got my mum and five sisters out four days before it started. When we played against Benin in Ghana last month with Ivory Coast [in an African Cup of Nations qualifier moved to a neutral venue because of the violence], I got them to come and watch the game and from there they went to Togo. They can stay there until the end of the situation. My dad was going to come as well but the war started on the day he was going to come."


"I don't want to take any sides and I don't want to get involved in the politics of the Ivory Coast because politics is for politicians, but it hurts me to see my friends, my brothers, killing each other," he says. "Some of my best friends are from the north, I'm from the west, I have friends from the south – I have a lot of Ivorian friends. Ivorians don't have problems with Ivorians. Politics are dividing people. But is that a reason for people to kill? Why not stop that now and talk.

People from outside should help to bring peace. Bring food and water to people. That's what I call worrying about the civilians. Then I can have respect for that and say those people really care. If your priority is to say one side loses and one side wins, then you are not stopping anything. They will keep fighting and, in the end, when everyone is gone, what is left for those people? Those kids who have seen the war and people dying, how many years is it going to take for them to get over it?"
There are often bigger things going on than debating if Chelsea should have been awarded a spot kick against Manchester United at the end of their first leg in the UEFA Champions League match-up last week...