African Soccer Stars Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Eboue Honor Nelson Mandela, Could Face Punishment From Turkish Soccer Officials

Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Eboue Nelson Mandela tributeDidier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboue could be in trouble for doing what the rest of the free world has been doing since Thursday: paying tribute to the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

The Turkish Football Federation could sanction the African soccer stars for paying a T-shirt tribute to Mandela on Friday — just one day after the South African icon died, ESPN reports.

“Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboue will appear before the Turkish Football Federation’s disciplinary committee after revealing shirts with tribute messages to Nelson Mandela,” the report says. “A federation rule prohibits players from displaying slogans or political messages on their shirts.

“After Galatasaray’s win on Friday, Drogba revealed a shirt with the slogan ‘Thank you Madiba,’ while Eboue’s read ‘Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela.’ Both players are from the Ivory Coast.”

The TFF could fine Drogba and Eboue, both players on Turkish club Galatasaray S.K., for wearing slogan-bearing T-shirts on gameday without receiving permission ahead of time. Turkish soccer officials fined Fethiyespor players earlier this month for wearing shirts with the words “Great Ataturk” — referring to Turkey’s first president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Drogba and Eboue previously played for Chelsea and Arsenal, respectively. Any disciplinary action the TFF ultimately takes against the Ivorians could bring negative publicity to Turkey — a fact not lost on the country’s sports minister.

“I don’t find it a healthy choice in terms of Turkey’s image abroad and the two footballers’ [freedom of] expression,” Suat Kilic reportedly told Agence France Presse.

On Monday, Drogba  used Instagram to defend his Mandela tribute. He posted a photo collage and a message which read, “I’d be very interested to see your comments on this…but I’m sorry if I had to I would do it again and again.Nor because of political beliefs but because this man inspired me,a country, a continent, the world!!!!! Thanks again Madiba”.

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