Côte d'Ivoire will not be taking part in the Paris 2024 Olympics with the women's soccer team. A decision that is causing quite a stir in Abidjan.
Touré Clémentine's daughters were not signed up by the Ivorian Football Federation, which cited a lack of financial resources on the part of the Office national des sports (ONS). In a press release made official this afternoon, FIF explained its position. "The Fédération Ivoirienne de Football (FIF) regrets to inform you that the Côte d'Ivoire women's A team will not be taking part in the two (02) matches in the 2nd round of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games that were to pit them against their Tunisian counterparts... In view of the NSO's decision not to finance the four (04) qualifying rounds of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the Ivorian Football Federation referred the matter to FIFA on September 29, 2023 and then again on October 02, to notify them of the Ivorian team's withdrawal," writes FIF in the document signed by Executive Director Armand Gohourou.
This is the first time that Côte d'Ivoire has demonstrated its inability to field a women's team at the Olympics. While the Federation has given official reasons, several sources and observers believe that the problem lies elsewhere.
A dip in confidence
The truth is that the Ivorian Football Federation lacks confidence in its girls and especially in its coach, Touré Clémentine, who has four successive failures in the AFCON qualifiers and two in the Olympic qualifiers. Since 2015 and the Women's World Cup in Canada, Côte d'Ivoire have not played in any major finals. What's more, their recent failure to qualify for the Morocco 2024 Women's Cup of Nations against Tanzania has left its mark. "We need to reform Ivorian women's soccer as a whole. We need to move on to a new cycle. A decision will be taken concerning Touré Clémentine in the coming days," a member of the Executive Committee told Sport News Africa without going into detail.
"Honestly, a lot has changed since the arrival of the Executive Committee headed by Idriss Diallo.
But this decision to forfeit gives the impression that women's soccer is getting nowhere. I've heard talk of strong reforms to come. I dare to hope that things will change," says Lakoun Marcel Ouattara, President of the NGO Footeuses. An unnamed player told Sport News Africa that the decision to withdraw had been known to the team's management since the double-header against Tanzania. Indeed, the ONS, as indicated in the federal communiqué, had asked FIF to make a choice between the AFCON qualifiers and the Olympic qualifiers."FIF has taken the decision to finance the qualifiers for the Women's AFCON Morocco 2024 with its own resources", is mentioned in the letter made public this October 26, 2023.
According to our source, the girls received this information in the form of a joke after the match in Dar Es Salam. "The way you played doesn't encourage you to give yourselves the means for the Olympic qualifiers", an official from the delegation is said to have said. Today, everything is clearer. On this continental qualifying campaign, FIF spent nearly 152,440 euros. With Tunisia, Mali and other heavyweights standing in the way of the Ivorians in the Olympic qualifiers, FIF didn't want to risk losing out financially.But at a time when all 16 Ligue 1 clubs and all 24 Ligue 2 clubs are obliged to have a women's section, what message does this forfeit send to girls who dream of escaping poverty through soccer? The question remains.