Manchester City’s Yaya Toure has blasted the awarding of the African Player of the Year to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as “indecent” and said it brought “shame” on the continent.
Toure, 32, had been favourite to win the prize for a record fifth successive time having captained the Ivory Coast to the Africa Cup of Nations title but he lost out to Gabon and Borussia Dortmund striker Aubameyang.
“It’s sad to see Africa react in this way, it does not give importance to African things,” Toure told Radio France International (RFI).
“This is what makes the shame of Africa. To behave in this way is indecent, but what can we do? We don’t show that Africa is important in our eyes.
“We give more priority to what is happening elsewhere than to our own continent. This is what is pathetic.”
Aubameyang, 26, has scored 18 goals in 17 Bundesliga games this season.
He earned 143 points in a poll of African coaches, seven more than Toure. Ghana and Swansea City striker Andre Ayew was third on 112 points.
Ayew told lequipe.fr that he too was stunned by the award, believing Toure would win and he himself would be second having been top scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations where Ghana were runners-up.
“Attention, Aubameyang is a friend and he has had a great year,” Ayew said.
“We must respect the competitions. If we Africans do not, who will? Frankly, it was Yaya or me this year ...”
At the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea last year, Gabon, captained by Aubameyang, were eliminated in the first round.
Toure even hinted at skulduggery in the voting process.
“Even Fifa with all of its history of corruption would not do this,” he said.
“I will give you an example — Lionel Messi wins all the trophies but it’s Cristiano Ronaldo who gets the Ballon d’Or. What would you say? It would be unfair.”
Meanwhile, Aubameyang received a hero’s homecoming in Libreville where he was hailed by thousands of fans as the pride of Gabon.
“He has risen through the ranks and this is a just reward,” said Brice Ignegue, the president of the Gabon team fan club.
Sabrina, a young fan who came out to greet Aubameyang, said the player was a national hero.
“Aubameyang represents Gabon, he is the national panther. He is the pride of Gabon and Africa,” she said.
Gabon president Ali Bongo Ondimba posted photos of the player’s arrival on his Twitter account as he welcomed his compatriot to the presidential palace.
The president immediately conferred upon Aubameyang one of the country’s leading civil honours, Commander of the National Order of Merit.
“I am happy and proud with this honour that I dedicate to the people of Gabon, my family and you, Mr President,” Aubemeyang said.
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