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Admiring A Wrestler Or Making A Political Statement?

  • Guardian, Friday, January 30, 2009 1:15 PM
When Chelsea's Ivorian forward Salomon Kalou celebrated scoring against Middlesbrough on Wednesday, his post-goal choreography in tandem with compatriot Didier Drogba could, it seems, be interpreted in one of two ways. Either he was showing his admiration for WWE wrestler John Cena, or he was making a statement in support of the Ivory Coast political activist Antoine Assale Tiemoko.
 
Players get into trouble for expressing support for anything remotely related to the real world, so it's understandable that Kalou, reportedly a huge wrestling fan, has said that his gesture of crossed arms (not wrists, an important differentiation, apparently) was a tribute to Cena. "I don't even know this guy [Tiemoko]," he said. "That has nothing to do with football. Why should I celebrate for him?"
 
"It speaks volumes about the wacky world of Premier League football that a muscle-bound American grappler and an African campaigner against judicial corruption should find themselves ­mentioned in the same breath," writes David Hytner. The English FA frowns upon the expression of political opinions by soccer players, but has happily accepted Kalou's explanation. After all, why let something as inconvenient as politics intrude upon the fantasy world of people earning several thousand dollars a day?

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