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 By Ian Holyman

Emmanuel Eboue: Year-long FIFA ban has been like being in prison

Emmanuel Eboue during a Sunderland training session.
Emmanuel Eboue left Arsenal to join Galatasaray in 2011.

Former Arsenal and Sunderland defender Emmanuel Eboue has told SFR Sport that his year-long FIFA-imposed ban from football has been "like being in prison."

Eboue, 33, has been unable to play or even train with any club since late March last year after he was suspended by FIFA for failing to pay a reported near-€1 million debt to his former agent, Sebastien Boisseau. 

"It's a bit like being in prison where you can't do anything, because FIFA said even training with any club, I can't," the former Ivory Coast international, who spent seven years at Arsenal, said.

"I have lost one year of my career. I don't play. If I don't play, I don't have an income. So, let me play, and when I have something, I'll pay my ex-agent."

The debt came through Eboue's move from north London to Galatasaray in 2011. After four years in Istanbul, Eboue became a free agent in summer 2015 before joining Sunderland in early March 2016 on a short-term deal.

He was unable to revive his career, however, as FIFA's ruling came into force later that month, meaning he was released by the Premier League side without playing a single game.

"Sometimes when you're lying in bed and you think about that problem, you sometimes have bad things coming into your mind. It's very, very hard, because they stopped me doing my work," Eboue said.

"They broke my dream down, they damaged everything. It was hard, to be honest, it was very, very hard.

"People that know me very well, when they see me, they know straight away that I'm not happy. I'm trying to laugh, to make people happy, but inside me, it's hard. I never thought this would happen to me, but it's real life. Anything can happen in real life."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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