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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 December 2006, 17:46 GMT
Tunisian clubs row over Koulibaly
James Copnall
BBC African football correspondent

Club Africain (left) and Etoile du Sahel (right)
Club Africain and Etoile du Sahel both want Koulibaly

Burkina Faso's 20-year-old striker Pierre Koulibaly is at the centre of a tug-of-war row between two of Tunisia's leading clubs, Etoile du Sahel and Club Africain.

According to Etoile du Sahel, the Sousse club signed the player from Burkinabe club Etoile Filante de Ouagadougou on 19 December, agreeing a five year deal.

Koulibaly has since claimed he was forced into completing the agreement when in fact he wanted to sign for Club Africain instead.

In a letter to the Tunisian press Koulibaly added his passport has been taken by Etoile du Sahel to prevent him moving to the club of his choice, though this has been denied by club officials.

Representatives of Etoile Filante have demanded that Etoile du Sahel return his passport and let the player sign for the highest bidder.

The Burkinabe outfit say they did not agree to the transfer and they have complained to the Tunisian Football Federation and to Fifa.

Speaking on a Tunisian TV station, Koulibaly said he would not play for Etoile du Sahel under any circumstances.

The 20-year-old striker earned rave reviews for his performances for former club Etoile Filante, and has represented Burkina Faso.

Etoile du Sahel say they have done nothing wrong and accuse Club Africain of trying to poach their player, even going so far to suggest Koulibaly was "kidnapped" from them, an accusation the Club Africain directors deny.

The case brings to mind that of Mikel John Obi, who both Manchester United and Chelsea believed they had signed.

The tussle between the English giants lasted several months, before Obi eventually ended up at Chelsea for a reported US$32 million.

It is unlikely that Koulibaly will cost a fraction of that sum, but it may take the intervention of Fifa to resolve this bitter debate.



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19 Dec 06 |  African


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