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Ivorian Fans Hope for German Visas Ahead of World Cup


Days before their football team's first-ever game in the World Cup, many Ivorian fans are still waiting for visas to support their side in Germany.

Abidjan's nightspot, Kingston, calls itself the "kingdom of reggae." On a stage below dozens of red, yellow and green ribbons, manager Davy Dav is announcing the next act, Mirak - a performer who sings and dances like Alpha Blondy, Ivory Coast's biggest reggae star.

As is the case with many other Ivorians, Davy Dav is trying to get a visa to go and support his national team, the Elephants, at the World Cup in Germany. He was asked by holiday tour organizers to bring two bands to the German village, Düren, which is expecting 1,200 Ivorians for as long as Ivory Coast stays in the tournament.

Dav is confident he will get a visa.

"It is not a problem for me, because I am a professional," he said. "Everybody knows me in Abidjan. So, I do not think there will be any problems, if I try to take two bands to Germany."

Dav says it is completely natural that Germany needs to be selective in who it lets into the country.

"Europeans cannot give visas away easily, because there are a lot of problems in Africa and so, many people want to leave," said Dav. "But if you have all your documents in order, you do not really have a problem."

The German Embassy's website says Germany is making every effort to issue visas swiftly, but cautions against exploiting the World Cup to improperly gain a visa.

Embassy officials say they need to be sure visitors will return to their home countries, no matter where they are from. The embassy has increased personnel to deal with the added workload.

O'Keny is another Ivorian musician also wanting to go to support the Elephants. She is more critical of Germany's visa policy.

She says Germans probably think Africans are only coming to the World Cup so they can stay there, afterwards. She says it is normal that Ivorians want to see their team in the World Cup. She says all those wanting to attend should get a visa.

Given Ivory Coast's recession, many Ivorians see working in Europe as a way to build up capital and to support their families.

With less than a week before the first match, neither Davy Dav nor O'Keny know if they will get a visa.