The first-ever World Cup match for the Ivory Coast was played by a team made up of players of various ethnic backgrounds from both the rebel-held North and the government-controlled South. It represented national unity for the war-torn country striving to repair its breach.
Even the coach, a Frenchman, is accepted in a country where fierce anti-French sentiment simmers...National unity (is) something that the country desperately needs if it is to preserve its tenuous peace while moving toward disarmament and fall elections… An Ivorian soccer analyst says the team’s positive impact on the country’s woes could be huge. "You wouldn’t believe what’s happening in the besieged zones when the team wins. It’s something incredible. Everyone sees themselves in the team." (CSMonitor )