Francis Koné is a Togolese International who boasts of no angelic touch or formal medical training but he does have the experience to save lives of fellow football players on the brink of death.
He once said “I am a Christian, I pray a lot, I fast a lot so I think God is trying to give me a message. Maybe I am a little angel sent by him. There are some people now who see me as an angel. I have a lot of messages like this. I say ‘I am just Francis Kone and it is God who is doing this, not me.”
So, it’s safe to say that Francis Koné is an angel who wears a football jersey, given his remarkable transformation from a target of racist abuse to a consistent lifesaver. It is just as staggering to acknowledge that he has prevented a team-mate or opponent from swallowing their tongue on four different occasions in his career that has spanned close to a decade.
Francis Kone The Lifesavers
Pat Conroy once opined that “Cameras are Lifesavers for a very shy people who have nowhere else to hide. Behind a lens, they can disguise the fact that they have nothing to say to strangers”
The first three times Francis Koné would save a life, (once in Thailand – 2011 and twice in Abidjan – 2013 and 2015) there were an absence of TV cameras or any publicity, but his latest life-saving incident in 2017 (there was TV camera this time) he couldn’t be robbed of his much-deserved acclaim and recognition any longer even if he was shy.
The incident occurred in a Czech top-flight clash between his Slovacko side and Bohemians 1905.
A game where Francis Koné’s performance on the pitch was characterized by racist abuse from a section of Bohemian fans in the opening 31 minutes of the game, marking Kone’s every touch with cries of ‘monkey’, but that didn’t deter him from doing what’s right when the Bohemian goalkeeper (Martin Berkovec) was about to swallow his tongue.
Koné spoke to The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield some days after the game, he said:
“I saw the defender was moving, so I was not worried about him, but the goalkeeper was still, lying on his back, and I could see the whites of his eyes. They were rolling in his head. He was either unconscious or worse. So I planted one foot across his chest to keep his left arm tightly in – sometimes the body can convulse, becomes really strong, and you can’t always control it – and tried to force my fingers into his mouth.“
“The jaw was locked tight, but I had to make sure he had not swallowed his tongue.
The clock was ticking, a couple of his team-mates came in and helped, moving him over on to his side, which you have to do to make sure the airways are clear, and I eventually prised his teeth apart and pulled the tongue back.
It was slippery with the saliva and at some point, he actually bit me, the jaws clamping back down, but it doesn’t matter. It was all over in a few seconds, and when the goalkeeper actually tried to say something I knew he was going to be fine. That’s when I got up and walked away.”
Although, what Francis Koné has done may not strictly meet the medical guidelines guiding the soccer game, but as the popular clichè goes, desperate times deserve desperate measures – for Koné to have saved three other players using this same method, it means that the act has become something of a specialty for Koné.
Thereafter, the Bohemians medic, Martin Vavra, praised Koné’s swift intervention as well as Martin Dostal, one of the club defenders, slapped the Togo international on the back in appreciative thanks of his quick thinking.
Nonetheless, Francis Koné didn’t expect to receive a medal from the Bohemian Club that later sent an apology to him on behalf of its fans, not to talk of receiving something more dynamic and unique like the annual FIFA Fair Play Award.
In October 2017, during FIFA’s annual ‘THE BEST’ award ceremony in London, Koné’s name glittered brightly alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gianluigi Buffon, and Zinedine Zidane as he received the FIFA Fair Play Award in recognition of the heroic act.
Giving a reaction after receiving the award which he dedicated to his mother, Koné believes the football world can be great when there’s a dearth of racism. He said:
“It is a message. Fair play means something like this too – to stop racism, this is fair play,”.
“It’s not normal to treat a person as a monkey – it’s incorrect. Football is fair play and I showed them that. Football is not what they are doing with racism. They have to stop it – for me, that’s the message.”
It’s been quite a journey for Koné but unfortunately, three years after the incident, the racism plague is still very much around in the football world and the lovers, reporters, and administrators of the game can only hope that it becomes a thing of the past.
After starting out at FC Bibo in Ivory Coast (the same academy where his late friend Cheick Tiote came through), Koné played in Thailand, Oman, Portugal, and Hungary before moving to the Czech Republic.
He left Slovacko in 2017 and had a two-year stint with another Czech side, Zbrojovka Brno before joining Malaysian outfit, Kuala Lumpur this year.
FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of FIFA Women’s World Cup™
Council assigns FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosting decision to the football governing body’s Congress; also approves financial statements for 2020 and budget for 2022.
Meeting by video conference, the Council conferred to the Congress the decision to award Women’s World Cup™ hosting rights.
Until now, the decision has been taken by the FIFA Council, most recently in June 2020 when the hosting rights for the 2023 edition were awarded to Australia and New Zealand.
As the football governing body seeks to raise the profile of the women’s game, this represents a significant step to bring the Women’s World Cup in line with the flagship men’s competition.
The proposal will be put forward for a final decision by the 71st FIFA Congress, which will meet virtually (for the second time) on 21 May.
International match calendar and release of players.
The FIFA Council received a report on the international football situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of the Council had extended to April 2021 the temporary amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players regarding the release of players for international duty, and FIFA, the confederations, and its member associations remain in dialogue with national authorities about exemptions from quarantine rules for national team players.
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The FIFA Council recognized that the highest priority in football is the health of the players, and therefore the discussion around the release of players for international duty must maintain this perspective, especially as the public health situation develops around the world.
2020 financials and 2022 budget
The Council also approved the organization’s Annual Report, which contains the financial statements for 2020 and the budget for 2022.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 focuses on the role played by world football’s governing body in the fight against COVID-19, primarily through the unprecedented COVID-19 Relief Plan, which has made available USD 1.5 billion to support FIFA’s 211 member associations and the confederations through times of financial uncertainty.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 is available on the official site.
FIFA Arab Cup 2021™
The Council approved the competition regulations for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, confirming the match schedule and draw procedure for the competition taking place in Qatar from 1 to 18 December this year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Paul Onuachu: A Victim Of Tactical Deficiency
Ever wondered why Genk forward Paul Onuachu has always been a prolific figure for his club and find it hard to replicate that form with the Super Eagles when invited?
The Nigeria international has been in awesome form for the Blue-White, scoring 26 goals in the Jupiler League this season for Genk, while his scoring prowess at his club has been a contrast to his form with the national team under Gernot Rohr scoring just once in 9 games despite being a top performer at club level.
Ahead of the AFCON qualifier doubleheader against Lesotho and the Benin Republic, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr named his 23 man list with the inform former Midtjylland forward listed as one of the standby players.
Onuachu’s struggles with the Super Eagles in previous games he featured is quite baffling, considering the excitement that greeted his first appearance with the national team plus the impressive form he’s currently in.
The job of every manager is to find a suitable position or fashion out tactics that would be suitable for their players in other to blend with the team approaches to every match. In Onuachu’s case, he hasn’t been fortunate enough to blend in with Rohr’s tactics. While at club level, Midtjylland plays to his strength.
However, due to Napoli’s players been restricted from traveling, the Genk forward made it through the backdoor to replace Gernot Rohr’s number one forward Victor Osimhen who hasn’t really hit the ground running with the ‘Partenopei‘, but when with the Eagles, he never fails to deliver.
It’s no doubt that the lanky striker has failed to deliver in his previous games, disappointing the ever-demanding Nigerian football enthusiasts with unforgiving backlashes from the fans. However, his prolific prowess with his club suggests otherwise and consistently makes a case for him to be integrated into the team with a different tactical approach that suits his style.
The era of a target man may have been long gone in football due to the advent of new tactics that have brought about a series of changes in the game. With managers preferring to go with a fast, skillful, or makeshift winger- kind of striker, instead of a target man.
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Looking at how Paul Onuachu plays with Genk upfront shows he’s one of the best target men in football, despite been perceived by many as a slow and old-fashioned kind of forward. However, John van den Bromm has been able to carve out a tactic that suits him which has been evident with his prolific form irrespective of his style of play.
Onuachu’s Super Eagle future might be on the knife-edge with Gernot Rohr not finding the right tactics that suit the Genk forward, especially with him not been consider as the go-to man despite his blistering runs of form in Belgium.
In recent times Rohr’s philosophy of vibrant attacking football with an emphasis on passing in the final third which requires the expertise of brilliant players to implement such tactics hasn’t really favored him.
Having a player in the mold of Onuachu gives Rohr another tactical option and an alternative style of play should the initial approach fails to work as expected, but the German tactician hasn’t really taken advantage of what the man could offer with a different opponent.
Onuachu’s presence in the Super Eagles team should be an added advantage in terms of variety when the normal approach of the manager fails. With an in-form striker on the bench, it could prove valuable, but in the former Midtjylland’s case, Gernot Rohr doesn’t seem to see him as a player that has a future with the national team.
Players in the mold of the Nigerian are quite physically imposing as the point man, though they may not offer the team excellent off-the-ball movement in some cases. However, they often find a way to provide an opportunity which the team could utilize when attacking or defending.
Onuachu’s inability to show a good turn of pace and smart footwork may have been one of the deficiencies that are affecting his chances of blending perfectly into the team.
However, the job of a manager is to help players blend in perfectly, and that’s exactly what Gernot Rohr should be doing. Not only for Onuachu but for every other player who are always finding it hard to replicate club form with the National Team.