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Ivorian sports minister fired over CAN bonuses

Ivory Coast captain, Yaya Toure (C) lifts the Afcon trophy after final victory over Ghana in February. The country’s minister has been sacked over a row over winning bonuses.

ABIDJAN, May 13- A row over unpaid Africa Cup of Nations winning bonuses estimated at around one million euros cost Ivory Coast sports minister Alain Lobognon his job on Wednesday.

“The prime minister Duncan received me this morning. We talked about the end of my mission at the heart of Government, at the request of the President of the Republic,” Lobognon posted on Twitter.

The sacking was confirmed by Lobognon’s spokesman, Fernand Dedeh, who told AFP that his boss was “in the middle of clearing out his office”.

Lobognon added on his Twitter page that he had been “happy to serve my country in this role”.

“And I remain available to serve it elsewhere.”

He concluded by wishing his successor “good luck”.

His departure is expected to be made official later Wednesday.

Lobognon has paid the price for the non-payment of part of the bonuses promised to players and staff involved in Ivory Coast’s victorious campaign at the 2015 Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea.

Ivory Coast beat Ghana in the final of the 2015 tournament after a dramatic penalty shoot-out for their second ever continental title after previously winning in 1992.

Last month midfielder Geoffroy Serey Die complained he was still waiting on his bonus, two months after the Elephants’ penalty shoot-out win over Ghana in the February 8 final in Bata.

“There are players including myself who haven’t received their cash. We won the CAN, they owe us the money, they must pay up,” the Vfb Stuttgart player said.

On top of the unpaid bonuses estimated by local media at 1million euros, each member of the 23-man African champions’ squad was awarded over 90,000 euros from Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, that sum split between cash and a new home.

“The president of the Republic has kept his word,” Serey Die observed.

The Ivorian government last week launched an official inquiry into the case.

“Everyone who is at fault in this affair will be punished,” spokesman Bruno Kone promised.