The body of Cheick Tiote has been flown back to his native Ivory Coast for a private funeral, some days after a public memorial was held for the footballer in China. The 30-year-old Ivorian collapsed during a training session with Beijing Enterprises, his final club, and ended up dying.
It’s unclear where exactly Tiote will be buried, as his family has expressed a preference of burying him in his home town of Yamoussoukro, the country’s capital, while the Ivory Coast Football Federation would rather have him buried in Abidjan, the country’s biggest city.
In any case, a crowd of hundreds, including former teammates and coaches, were at Abidjan International Airport to receive Tiote’s body on Thursday. Some of the big names at the airport were former Ivory Coast national coach Herve Renard, Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony, Celtic defender Kolo Toure, former Paris Saint-Germain player Siaka Tiene and former Arsenal forward Gervinho. At the gathering, Toure called Tiote “a great player, a warrior” and said that he was “shocked” by the news of his passing away.
The memorial service in China was led by former teammate and close friend Papiss Cisse, who fought through tears to give his eulogy. Tiote’s family, along with many of his siblings (he has just under 50 in total), were also present inside the ceremony hall. Meanwhile, fans were present outside the memorial, having crafted a Rest in Peace banner along with an exhibition of Tiote wearing the various uniforms across his career. Other African football giants around the world paid tribute to Tiote. For example, Ivorian Didier Drogba dedicated his first victory with the American club Phoenix Rising FC to Tiote’s memory. Family, former teammates and fans are still awaiting the results of an investigation being made into Tiote’s cause of death.
New chapter, new Team, new friends, the game is still beautiful @phxrisingfc I wanna dedicate this win to @tiote_official who passed away few days ago while doing what he loved, playing football. My thoughts and condolences to his family 🙏🏾🙏🏾 Premier but dans cette nouvelle aventure avec un goût spécial, je dédis ce but et cette victoire à un de nos plus vaillant éléphant Champion d'Afrique @tiote_official à jamais dans nos cœurs Champion @tiote_official 💔 Fortes pensées à toute la famille et à toute la Côte d'Ivoire et l'Afrique qui pleure un des leurs.