Why did Öcalan mention Drogba?

Why did Öcalan mention Drogba?

Whoever I met yesterday was asking the same question: “Why did Abdullah Öcalan tell the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to take Drogba as an example?” My answer was mixed with both Drogba’s football player characteristics, and also his political identity, which is not very well known in Turkey. 
For this reason, I explained how he struggled to end the civil war in his country in 2006. 

Imagine, the Ivory Coast had qualified for the World Cup. For the first time in its history, the country was on the threshold of achieving global success. However, there had been a huge rebellion since the presidential elections. The opposition considered the elections rigged and started an armed struggle. Bloodshed was everywhere. 

In such an environment, Didier Drogba gathered all his teammates and made a historic speech in front of the cameras in the changing room. This quite impressive historic speech started as follows: “North, south, east, west does not matter. We are all one.” 

He called on all sides to stop the violence and stand together behind the national team. “The arms should be silent. The elections should be held again,” he said.

He took the cup the team had won and the boots with which he had scored to the opposition leader. He was welcomed at the airport by a vehicle convoy stretching back for kilometers. And he got the promise that arms would be silenced during that meeting. 

You may question whether a football player can affect the fate of his country so much. Well, don’t question it. 

Because if you are a courageous player like Drogba both in the field and in social life, then you can change the fate of the game you are playing, and also the fate of the country where you were born. 
If you have not already done so, watch legendary football player Eric Cantona’s documentary “Football rebels,” or watch the documentary’s summary at this address:

Well, why did Öcalan tell the BDP to take Drogba as an example? 

Our Ankara representative Deniz Zeyrek asked BDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who was in the delegation that met with Öcalan. According to Demirtaş, Öcalan drew attention to the fact that politics was “the art of obtaining concrete results,” and he supported his interpretation with the football reference. 

As a matter of fact, he did not only give the example of Drogba, but also Galatasaray’s legendary striker Metin Oktay. “Without scoring a goal, football is no good. One should play good football and score at the same time. Metin Oktay used to do that in the old days, now there is Drogba. Politics is also like this, without scoring a goal, without getting any results, it is no good.” 

Pervin Buldan, who visited Öcalan together with Demirtaş, told similar things to our colleague Rifat Başaran. Buldan said they had exchanged views about education in mother tongue for a while. “He brought forward certain proposals on this topic and then he said, ‘There is a struggle you are engaged in about education in mother tongue; however, on this matter, you can be like Drogba,’” she said. While Öcalan was giving the example of Drogba, Buldan said, he mentioned not only Drogba’s football but also his struggle in his own country. 

We all saw the importance of Drogba on the pitch the other evening, in the Galatasaray-Real Madrid match. Galatasaray played just like its title, “lion,” in the first half, but after Drogba left the game injured, the team collapsed. 

Of course, one player is not everything. However, a player’s presence or absence can influence everything dramatically. 

It’s like that in the stadium, and also in life. 

Eyüp Can is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published on Sept. 19. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.