Two days after what some are calling an Ivorian disgrace, the Minister of Sports, who has been retained in his post by the government, was keen to clarify the situation.
Stade d’Elimpé continues to cause controversy in Côte d’Ivoire
Danho Claude Paulin, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Sports, invited the national and international press to a press conference in Ebimpé, at the site of the disgrace, on Thursday, September 14, 2023. As well as coming away with some unconvincing answers, notably concerning the quality of the pitch, journalists were treated to figures that were completely out of proportion for a soccer stadium. But it all started with an apology.
The Minister of Sports apologizes
“His Excellency Alassane Ouattara is the first to be affected. We take this opportunity to apologize and understand the bitterness of our compatriots for this inconvenience. We understand and apologize on behalf of the Ministry of Sports and the Ivorian Football Federation. A number of people with tickets were unable to get into the stadium (Ebimpé). What happened was a wake-up call. In such a situation, I myself feel affected. We regret this situation and all things contribute to the good of those who want to do solid things. We are a responsible government and we do what we say,” said Danho Paulin at the outset, before reassuring us of the Ivorian government’s reaction to the pitch. “We’ve called in the experts, who have come to add their expertise and make corrections. It’s a pre-homologated course. Given the force of nature, certain things can happen,” continues the mayor of the Commune of Attécoubé.
Faced with all the talk on social networks and in the local media, Danho was keen to provide some answers regarding the figures put forward. While the entire Ebimpé stadium was upgraded over a two-year period at a cost of 30.445 million euros, the pitch did not cost that much. But 10% of the overall sum invested in bringing the Chinese gift up to standard.
“The turf (Stade d’Elimpé) didn’t cost 30 million 445 euros, but rather 3 million 044 euros, including the drainage system”, he explained. According to Ms Abbé, from the Office National des Sports, “the maintenance equipment cost the Ivorian taxpayer the sum of 1.830 million euros, the sound system extension was invoiced at 3.805 million euros”, added the head of the maintenance, equipment and upkeep department.
These figures verge on the insane, and have caused quite a stir on the web, particularly with regard to the pitch, which was completely decomposed after the rain on September 12, 2023, and is estimated to cost 3.044 million euros. “Even at that price it’s not possible,” was the response.”The stadium system is two-drain: gravel and tube trenches. We haven’t been able to observe the quantity of water. We’ll do everything we can to make sure we’re within regulation time. The pitch is a hybrid”, explained Madame Toto Kra, technical advisor at the ONS, whereas the Minister had spoken of natural grass before her. The cacophony of explanations was all the more convincing that the Stade d’Elimpé affair is far from over.