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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 15:09 GMT
Drogba excluded from Africa award
By Mohamed Fajah Barrie
BBC Sport, Accra

Didier Drogba
Drogba was named Africa's Player of the Year in 2006
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has admitted that Didier Drogba was excluded from the 2007 African Footballer of the Year award.

Drogba refused to travel to Togo for the ceremony on 1 February, and the award was given to Frederic Kanoute.

A Caf statement revealed that Drogba's absence ruled him out of contention.

"Any player who is absent at its award ceremony will not be taken into consideration in placements of African footballer of the year," it said.

The statement was issued on Thursday, but the executive committee meeting at which the decision was taken was held in Accra on the day of the awards ceremony.

"This decision was communicated to all those concerned on 1 February with particular reference to the award ceremony scheduled for Lome, Togo," read the statement.

Drogba said that he did not wish to be considered for future African Player of the Year awards after Kanoute won the 2007 title.

"I was told if I didn't appear the rules would change and the prize would go to the runner-up," Drogba said.

"This attitude doesn't honour Africa so I've pulled out of future elections."

Drogba, who won the 2006 award, said it made no sense to have the awards ceremony in another country while such a high-profile African event was ongoing.

"If I refused to go to Lome it was first for my team-mates, as you don't organise such an event just two days before a quarter-final," the Chelsea forward said.

"I didn't go as well because of the son of Ulrich Stilieke (the former Ivory Coast coach) had died.

"We're all working for the African continent, there's a huge media presence in Ghana for a competition that was heavily criticised 10 years ago.

"So there comes a time when we all have to pull together."

Ivory Coast spokesman Jean-Claude Djacus said the Confederation of African Football (Caf) had "brought itself into disrepute" by its handling of the affair.

Caf spokesman Suleiman Habuba had previously told BBC Sport that there was nothing sinister in Kanoute winning the accolade.

When asked directly if Caf had threatened Drogba that he would not win the award if he did not go to Lome, Habuba flatly denied the accusation.

He also denied Drogba was the rightful winner of the trophy.

"The Caf executive committee announced the winner, Frederic Kanoute, after the vote was counted," he said.

Caf did not release the list showing how national team coaches in the continent voted for the award, despite having done so in the past.

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