Galatasaray's Didier Drogba from Ivory Coast salutes soccer fans as he wears a jersey in sign of respect for Nelson Mandela before their Turkish League match with Elazigspor in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 (Photo: AP)
Ivory Coast duo Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboue can take a sigh of relief after Turkey's sports minister offered his support for the players' recent on-field tribute to late South African leader Nelson Mandela.
Both players removed their Galatasaray club shirts after Friday's match against SB Elazigspor, revealing t-shirts that read "Thank You Madiba" and "Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela."
The Turkish football association summoned both players and said that they would face disciplinary sanctions for breaking a rule which forbids political slogans and messages on t-shirts.
Turkey's sports minister, Suat Kilic, told reporters on Monday, however, that he didn't think the sanctions would be a good decision for "the image of Turkey" or the players' "freedom of expression."
The minister's intervention most likely means the Ivorian players will receive very reduced sanctions.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)