RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The younger brother of Ivory Coast players Yaya and Kolo Toure died on Thursday, the same day his famous siblings were representing their country at the World Cup, the Ivory Coast Football Federation said.
The 28-year-old Ibrahim Toure died in England, the Ivorian federation said in a statement, and Yaya and Kolo were informed soon after Ivory Coast's 2-1 loss to Colombia at the World Cup in Brazil. The IFF did not give a cause of death but said Ibrahim died in Manchester, where Yaya plays his club football for English champions Manchester City in the Premier League and where Kolo used to play. British media reported that Ibrahim, who was also a footballer, was battling cancer and had been receiving treatment in Manchester.
"A tough day for the Toure brothers. Just hours after the (Colombia) match ... Kolo and Yaya have learned of the death of their younger brother," the IFF said in its statement. "The entire Ivorian delegation in Brazil supports them in this painful circumstance."
The IFF didn't say if the brothers would now leave the World Cup in Brazil, where Ivory Coast has a chance of making the second round for the first time. Midfielder Yaya Toure captained the team against Colombia in Brasilia on Thursday, while Liverpool defender Kolo was on the bench. Despite losing its second game, Ivory Coast is second in Group C behind Colombia ahead of a final group match against Greece. Yaya Toure, the current African player of the year, is a pivotal player for the team.
Manchester City released a statement saying "the thoughts of everyone connected with City are with the Toure family at this most difficult time. "Ibrahim was a regular visitor to Carrington (training ground) and was a popular figure among the staff and players and was extremely close to his two older brothers," the club said.
A message on FIFA President Sepp Blatter's official Twitter feed, which was posted in English and French, said he was "very saddened" by the news. Belgium defender Vincent Kompany, the Manchester City captain, wrote on Twitter: "My sincere condolences to the Toure family for the loss of Ibrahim. We are all saddened by this news. Keep strong."
Kolo Toure's current club Liverpool said "the thoughts of everybody at Liverpool Football Club are with defender Kolo Toure following the news of the passing of his brother." Ibrahim Toure played professionally himself as a striker, most recently for Lebanon club Al Safa. He also played in Ukraine, France and Syria after starting at the same Ivorian club as Yaya and Kolo. But he never realized his dream of making Ivory Coast's national team alongside his brothers.
"If I manage to join a European side, maybe one day I'll get called up by the national team," he said in an interview on the FIFA website in January. "Of course there's a huge amount of pressure on me wherever I go because I'm the brother of Yaya and Kolo Toure.
"But you mustn't forget that I'm a forward, whereas Yaya is a midfielder and Kolo is a defender. Speaking for myself, I always give everything."
Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP