Posted On November 14, 2016 By In COUNTRIES, Ivory Coast, Photo gallery, VIDEO&PHOTO With 66 Views

Serge Aurier, ‘bad boy’ in France but adored in Ivory Coast

Abidjan (AFP)

Serge Aurier has made headlines in France for his off-field antics, including an altercation with a policeman and insulting his coach on social media, but in his native Ivory Coast they love him.
The 23-year-old had already been hit with a three-match ban from European competition by UEFA for comments made about a referee when he found himself at the centre of controversy in February this year.
In a video posted on the social media app Periscope, the Paris Saint-Germain star mocked his coach Laurent Blanc and several team-mates, eventually being banished to the reserves for five weeks as a punishment.
In September he was given a two-month prison sentence after being found guilty of assaulting a police officer outside a Paris nightclub in May, and last month he was placed under investigation by FIFA for making a throat-slitting gesture during a World Cup qualifier.
If many in Europe have raised doubts about Aurier’s character, in the Ivory Coast they queue up to defend a player who is set to come up against France in an international friendly on Tuesday.
“The French should stop demonising Aurier. Eric Cantona did unimaginable things when he was at Manchester United in England,” says Abou Cisse, president delegate of JCA Treichville, one of the Ivory Coast’s oldest clubs.
“That did not stop the French media from singing his praises.
“Aurier is still young. His behaviour is a result of the environment he comes from. But he is a nice person. We should help him to behave in an exemplary way rather than trying to destroy him.”
– Defended by Drogba –
Brice Kouassi, a journalist with Ivorian national radio, is on the same wavelength.
“Aurier’s problem is that he upset Laurent Blanc, one of the symbols of French football,” he says of the former Lens and Toulouse defender.
“He is one of the best full-backs in the world and it is time he got himself back into line and made himself an example for the young generation that he represents.”
“It’s too much. We should leave Aurier in peace. We love him here,” insists Yssouf Diabaté, the president of Sporting Club de Gagnoa, the club where Aurier’s father, the former international striker Léon Gbizié, once played.
The over-riding feeling in his home country is that Aurier should be judged on his performances rather than his off-field discrepancies.
“He has an incredible talent,” says Aka Kouamé, a member of the Elephants team that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1992.
Aurier was part of the Ivory Coast side that won the Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea in 2015 and will feature for the Elephants in Tuesday’s friendly in Lens, where he began his professional career.
Those who defend him point out that he has not been punished by FIFA for his controversial goal celebration against Mali and that he may have helped save the life of opponent Moussa Doumbia in the same game for preventing him from swallowing his tongue.
“His problem has been off the pitch, but on it he has always given everything,” Ivory Coast legend Didier Drogba, now 38 and playing for Montreal Impact, told RTL.
“But when you have youngsters shouting your name and asking for autographs, you need to watch what you do.
“When he does something that’s not good, I tell him. But he is a good guy. He’s loyal, and he wants to succeed.
“I’ll stick up for him a bit because I lost it sometimes too. I don’t think he’s a bad guy.”

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