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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Bassory Ouattara, a president's football-playing son - or is he?

Alassane Ouattara isn't just making the headlines in the world news sections of the French media over the ongoing disputed leadership of his country, Côte d'Ivoire, with Laurent Gbagbo.

He's also making an appearance in the sports sections, courtesy of a player at Vannes Olympique Club (VOC), a football team in Ligue 2.

Alassane Ouattara (screenshot interview with France 24, January 2011)

Bassory Ouattara is in VOC's reserve team, and if the surname looks familiar that's because he claims to be the son of the man the international community recognises as Côte d'Ivoire's elected leader.

Last weekend he spoke to the regional daily Le Télégramme revealing how he had lived with his four brothers and sisters in the United States from the age of eight to 15 while Alassane Ouattara was working as an economist in New York.

According to Bassory, he came to France in 2005, first settling in Lyon where he sat his baccalauréat, played for the local side Association sportive Lyon-Duchère and then after he had met his girlfriend, moved with her to northwestern France and signed with VOC.

He evoked memories of an early childhood spent in Côte d'Ivoire and how concerned he remained for the welfare of his cousins who still lived there, and of course the man he insisted was his father.

"I frequently talk to him on the 'phone," he said. "He's calm and said that everything is all right and that Gbagbo will leave."

Journalists were soon beating a path to the young player's door wanting to find out more, and Bassory was more than accommodating quoted in Le Télégramme as saying he "would respond to all media enquiries and even go to Paris if necessary."

He didn't get much of a chance though because the following day brought about an official denial from Côte d'Ivoire.

"The information is false. His Excellency Mr. Alassane Ouattara has no son named Bassory Ouattara," said a statement published in the regional daily Ouest-France.

And that was followed up by Patrick Achi, a government spokesmen, telling Agence France Presse that, "The young man is just a storyteller."

Media attention returned to Bassory, whose story hadn't changed - much - although his apparent enthusiasm to talk about it appeared to have been dampened.

"Alassane Ouattara is my biological father although, it's true, he has never officially recognised me as such," he told Agence France Presse.

"It was my uncle, Gaosso, who 'recognised' me as his son at my birth," he continued.

"I spoke to my biological father again this morning and he gave me something of an earful because of my comments to the media and he asked me not to say any more."

The 'phone of course didn't stop ringing at VOC, but it was the president of the club, Michel Jestin, and the general director, Olivier Cloarec, who were fielding the calls.

"He's unavailable for comment," was the message journalists received when requesting further interviews with Bassory.

"We've been in touch with the French foreign ministry and it said it would review the case," Cloarec told the national daily Aujourd'hui en France - Le Parisien.

"Other than that, we've been asked to say nothing."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

looks more like a nobody trying to attract attention if you ask me!

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