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Drogba Jerseys

Selay Marius Kouassi/Twenty Ten

Associated features: Drogba the Icon (Photo gallery), The Didier Drogba fever (French and English Photo feature), Drogba Dependence (Text feature), Drogba: Ivory Coast's talisman (Text feature)

Location: Abidjan, Ivory Coast

The future of Drogba football jerseys.

In the lead up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the football jersey business was booming in Abidjan. From the tailor sitting in a little sewing shop in down town Abidjan, to sellers hanging bright orange Ivory Coast jerseys outside sports apparel stores, people involved in the jersey business have been enjoying the benefits of a roaring trade. Unfortunately, their success has been suddenly threatened by the poor performance of Ivory Coast’s national football team.

Caught up in the 2010 FIFA World Cup fever, many Ivorians show their support for their national football team by wearing the national bright orange jersey. Since the kick-off, the Drogba jersey, number 11, has become the best-selling jersey in the country.

“I ordered three thousand bright orange jerseys and printed Drogba on them, they were sold out days after the opener against Portugal,” said Ahmed Maïga, a jersey seller in Abidjan.

In Maïga’s shop, in the suburb of Adjamé, the jerseys of Marseille, Chelsea and the Ivory Coast, the teams Drogba has played for, sell well. “The Drogba jersey is 85 per cent of the jerseys people buy here,” said Maiga.

Like Maïga, many small entrepreneurs have turned to jersey business. They are either jersey sellers or jersey designers and make a profit from this business. Ahmed Maïga works hand in hand with Dosso Mamadou, a silkscreen printer who is now making it by printing or sewing clients’ names on the bright orange jersey.

“Some clients who are die-hard fans of Ivory Coast national football team want to have their names stuck on the jersey. Most of them choose the Drogba jersey, the number 11. They keep the figures on it, and I print their names in the back,” said Dosso who charges US$1 for each letter stuck on the back of the jersey.

In Dosso and Maïga’s shops, in Adjamé, a Drogba jersey costs between US$8 and US$15, but most of their jerseys are fake. In a country where 40 per cent of the population live on less than a dollar a day, and where football is becoming as important as religion, the quality of the jersey doesn’t mean a lot. Wearing a Drogba jersey to identify oneself with the national football hero is the only thing that counts.

“Not all Ivorians could afford the original jersey, it costs a lot! People who are very passionate about the team are deprived, they can’t get it, but they need to wear a jersey to show their support to the team. I am here to satisfy their demand for a jersey,” said Maïga.

Dosso and Maïga’s business was threatened by Kalilh Icham, an Ivorian FA authorized jersey dealer who tried a case against some sellers of fake jerseys. Now, with the misfortune and the unexpected performance of the Ivorian team, they are facing a greater threat and are desperately in search of ways and means to avoid bankruptcy.

“After the euphoria following the tough draw against Portugal, I ordered 7,000 Drogba jerseys and Brazil beat Ivory Coast. Now people’s interest in the team has decreased and I can’t sell them,” said Maïga.

“My business can’t end like that, I must sell at least half of these jerseys and get back the money I spent in this business. I want to invest money in the Ghana jersey business. It’s where Ivorians and Africans’ all eyes are turned now,” said Maïga.

The unexpected failure of Didier Drogba and his team mates will impact people like Maïga negatively. A question still remains then: how far will Ghana’s national football team progress in the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament?

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