Four Tiny Tidbits On: Cote d'Ivoire

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The World Cup is ominously close! So that you aren't caught offside (they have that in soccer, right?), we're previewing all the participants, bringing you Four Things You Don't Know About Them. If you have a tidbit, send it along to Today: Ivory Coast! And for World Cup previews that are even better than ours, check out That's On Point, who helped us with these as well.

1. I Put A Spell On You. During the 1992 African Nations Cup, the National Football Federation was looking for an edge, so they employed the services of a pair of witch doctors. It seemed to work, since Côte d'Ivoire won a 21-shot shootout in the finals of the 1992 African Cup of Nations over Ghana by an 11-10 margin. Then, the Federation refused to pay the witch doctors, and the stiffed doctors decided that a curse was to be placed on the team until they were paid. For the next decade, Côte d'Ivoire went into a footballing tailspin, until 2002, when the new head of the National Football Federation, hearing that there was a curse, assembled an offering of $500, a bottle of whiskey, and a cow to the aggreived doctors, who promptly lifted the curse. Côte d'Ivoire proceeded to qualify for its first World Cup four years later. — (thanks to Craig Daniel Barker).


2. Not Exactly The Elephant In The Room. The Elephants are currently cruising through the African Cup of Nations. Still, they got lumped in with very tough group. Stringy hair or not, Didier Drogba has talismanic potential. This is a team that really could have been a quarterfinal threat in another group, with say Mexico or Portugal. Winning the African Cup of Nations could be a detriment, since teams will not overlook them. They play the Argies on June 10, but it probably won't be a repeat of Senegal shocking France on El Hadij "Second spitter" Diouf's late winner. — (thanks to Mike Cardillo).

3. The Celtic Circle. If you've been watching the Worldwide Leader lately, you might notice that the Best Tiny Tidbit about Côte d'Ivoire has already been taken, by Bono. V/O as "Where the Streets Have No Name" plays: "After three years of civil war, feuding factions talked for the first time in years, and the president called a truce. Because the Ivory Coast qualified for the World Cup for the first time. Because, as everyone knows, a country united makes for better cheerleaders than a country divided." You may think it's obvious that Bono would be rooting for Côte d'Ivoire because they're an African team, but the reality is, with no Ireland in the proceedings, Bono just inverted the flag. (It's an easy mistake to make, says our tipster; he did it once at the Mall of America, only to realize it somewhere in South Dakota.) — (thanks to Craig Daniel Barker).


4. We'll Thank You To Speak French. The country was originally known as Ivory Coast in English, plus: Elfenbeinküste (German), Costa de Marfil (Spanish), Costa do Marfim (Portuguese), Ivoorkust (Dutch). But in 1985 the government requested that the country be known as Côte d'Ivoire in every language. In fact, according to national law, the name of the country cannot be translated from French. The country is rife with corruption, but they got that law passed.

(Tomorrow: Croatia)