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Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Friday, 7 January 2011

Togo shooting keeper unhappy with 'heartless' Caf

Kodjovi Obilale (inset) and an Angolan guard at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations
Obilale (inset) will never play football again after the attack in Angola last year

By Richard Connelly
BBC World Service Sport

The Togo goalkeeper left disabled after being shot during a gun attack while travelling to last year's Cup of Nations tournament claims he has been completely ignored by the "heartless" organisation that runs African football.

Kodjovi Obilale, 26, was part of his country's squad making their way to Angola when their team bus was fired at repeatedly by separatist guerrillas in Cabinda province.

He was hit twice in the back and - having since undergone seven operations to repair damage to his spine, liver, bladder and intestines - will never play football again.

But, a year later, Obilale says he has had no contact from the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

"There are people who just don't have hearts," he told the BBC World Service. "All they think of is counting their cash."

Despite the BBC's repeated requests for an interview, Caf have so far declined to comment.

Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o
Honestly, if my name was Samuel Eto'o or Didier Drogba it wouldn't be happening like this

Kodjovi Obilale

They have, however, always maintained that Togo broke competition rules by travelling to their Nations Cup venue by road, and not - as stipulated - by air.

At the time of the attack, Obilale - who is still undergoing intensive physiotherapy in a bid to walk without the aid of crutches - played semi-professionally for GSI Pontivy in the French Amateur Championship (CFA), the fourth tier of French football.

But his contract expired at the end of last season, since when he has relied on donations and the generosity of his former international colleague, Emmanuel Adebayor, who has remained in regular contact since the attack.

Obilale - who lives in France with his wife and two young children - did receive $100,000 from world governing body Fifa in November, and has also had financial assistance from the Togolese Football Federation (FTF), and the French Football Federation.

But Obilale claims that the world of football is "rotten" and that nobody at the top of the game has taken any real interest in his future because he is not a big star.

"Honestly, if my name was Samuel Eto'o or Didier Drogba it wouldn't be happening like this," he said.

"Nobody would be offering me $25,000 [the sum FIFA originally offered] or $100,000. But it's because I play for Pontivy. [But] we all kick the same ball - it should be fair for everyone. They don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow, what my plans are. Nobody is asking.

"I'm fighting every day to ask for fairness in all this, to get compensation and all that.

"And everything I do, I do myself. I will have to shout for it. And that's why I say football is a rotten world."

In a statement to the BBC, Fifa stressed that Caf was responsible for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

"This tragedy took place during the Africa Cup of Nations, which is organised by Caf and not by Fifa," it read. "The regulations of the organiser are the ones which apply, and there are no specific Fifa regulations for such competitions."

Asked if they had plans to offer Obilale additional financial or moral support, Fifa said details of correspondence with him would remain private.

Obilale is also considering whether to instruct his lawyer to take action against the Togolese Football Federation (FTF).

"The federation - nobody cares," he said. "I don't want to bite the hand that feeds me - they paid half my medical costs. But, for my future, nobody asks anything. Everyone stays quiet."

The FTF is being run by a new executive that only took charge in November.

Its first vice-president, Herve Pizza, said they had a plan to support Obilale, but admitted to the BBC they had not told him about it yet.

Piers Edwards

"We want to give him a surprise, so that he understands all the board is entirely on his side," said Pizza.

"He went [to Angola] as a footballer, to defend the national colours. It's right that the Federation should support him and look after him. That stands to reason completely. It's not a question of having lawyers and so forth."

The FTF say they have helped to organise a requiem mass in the Togolese capital, Lome, for Saturday, the anniversary of the attack.

Obilale says he has not been invited.

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see also
Togo shooting keeper accuses Caf
07 Jan 11 |  African
Obilale set for France return
06 Mar 10 |  African
Fifa increases Obilale donation
27 Sep 10 |  African
Obilale seeks Caf compensation
14 Mar 10 |  African
France FA pay for Obilale return
26 Feb 10 |  African
Togo's Angolan casualty fights on
26 Sep 10 |  African

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