Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboue Avoid Punishment for Nelson Mandela Tribute

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2013

ISTANBUL, TURKEY- SEPTEMBER 17: Galatasaray's Didier Drogba controls the ball during UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Ali Sami Yen Area on September 17, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)
Burak Kara/Getty Images

The Turkish Football Federation has confirmed it will not punish Galatasaray stars Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboue for their on-pitch tributes to the late Nelson Mandela, per Eurosport's Twitter account:

The Ivorian duo failed to get permission from Super Lig officials to display shirts thanking the former South African president after Gala's win over Elazigspor, as reported by Enis Koylu of Goal.com.

As noted by Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail Online, both players were expected to receive fines for highlighting their messages of appreciation. Drogba's simply read "Thank you Madiba," while Eboue had "Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela" on his vest.

The possibility of receiving any kind of punishment was undoubtedly harsh and a huge contradiction of the numerous tributes paid across the footballing world. The English Premier League, for example, held a one-minute applause before matches in the round of fixtures after Mandela's death.

Political tension in Turkey makes it extremely difficult to eradicate evocative statements from players and means authorities are used to taking a tough stance with those who highlight their beliefs.

Thankfully, Koylu's report highlighted a statement from the TFF that suggested no breach of rules had taken place:

"The supposed breach of the rules has not actually happened, so there is no need for any action," read the statement.

COSTA DO SAUIPE, BRAZIL - DECEMBER 06:  A tribute to Nelson Mandela is displayed on a screen on stage before the Final Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at Costa do Sauipe Resort on December 6, 2013 in Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, Brazil.  (Photo by Buda
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

This isn't the first time players have faced potential punishment for messages of support in Turkey and beyond.

Barlow's report cites the example of Fethiyespor players, who were called in front of the disciplinary committee for wearing shirts celebrating the founder of modern Turkey, highlighting the difficulty of such issues.

In England, one of the most famous and comparable cases came when former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler was fined for showing support to the Merseyside dockers who were sacked in 1995-98, as per Glenn Moore's report for The Independent.

Most onlookers will be glad to hear Turkish officials have come to see sense and not punished two stars who have every right to show their love for Mandela, a man who was loved and heralded across the globe.