Liberia’s 2.4 million voters vote on Tuesday, November 14, to choose their president. They have the choice between Joseph Boakai, 78, and ex-footballer George Weah, 57, who is seeking a second term. The two contenders were neck and neck at the end of the first round, with 43% of the votes each.
Like George Weah, Ballon d’Or in 1995, who made the heyday of Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, other football stars have converted to politics, with contrasting successes.
► Pelé, the king who became a minister
Crowned with his status as a global football star, his immense popularity in Brazil and his three world titles, Pelé was naturally very courted by politicians in his country after the end of his sporting career in 1977.
The player nicknamed O Rei (“the King”) finally gave in in 1994 by accepting the post of “extraordinary minister of sports” proposed by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, classified on the right. Before leaving his post in 1998, Pelé helped modernize Brazilian professional football with the law bearing his name, which liberalized player transfers.
► Romario, scorer-senator
Coming from a favela in Rio de Janeiro and becoming one of the most brilliant players of his generation, Romario was also world champion with Brazil in 1994. But unlike his illustrious compatriot Pelé, this prolific striker launched himself in politics by submitting to the verdict of the ballot box.
Initially affiliated with the Socialist Party, Romario was elected a Rio state deputy in 2010, then senator in 2014, representing his state at the national level. He was re-elected to the latter function in 2022 with the label of the Liberal Party, the formation of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
► José Luis Chilavert, losing goalkeeper
Considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world at the end of the 1990s, José Luis Chilavert impressed as much with his saves as with his ability to shake the opponent’s net. Member of the team eliminated by France in the round of 16 of the World Cup in 1998 and then passed through Strasbourg, the Paraguayan scored around sixty goals during his long professional career, penalties, but also free kicks.
This left-hander with the physique of a rugby player defended very conservative political ideas in his native country, standing out for his populist positions and homophobic statements. After giving up on running for president in 2018, he finally tried his luck in April 2023. Without convincing the voters: he only received 0.83% of the votes.
► Andriy Shevchenko, a simple parenthesis
Player, Andriy Shevchenko lit up the game with his technical ease and his sense of goal. The Ukrainian notably won the Champions League for AC Milan in 2003, then was named Ballon d’Or the following year. He also accumulated 111 caps with his national team between 1995 and 2012, the year he put away his crampons to put on a politician’s outfit.
The footballer then wanted to do “something” for his country by joining the Forward Ukraine! party, a new group close to business circles. His candidacy for the legislative elections ended in failure, his party obtaining only 1.6% of the votes at the national level and no seats in this proportional election.
Returning to football as Ukraine coach, Andriy Shevchenko was appointed in 2022 by Volodymyr Zelensky as ambassador for United24, an organization responsible for raising funds to rebuild the country at war.