Didier Drogba to sue The Daily Mail over false claims about his charity actions

 Chelsea legend Didier Drogba
Chelsea legend Didier Drogba

The former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has said he will launch legal action against the Daily Mail after it published an article claiming £1.7m donated to his charity had not reached those they were intended for.

A Mail report on the Didier Drogba Foundation claims only1 per cent (£14,115) of donations made by high-profile people, royals and business people in the UK over five years had gone to good causes. It also claims £439,321 was spent on fundraising parties while the rest of the funds were “languishing” in bank accounts.

The foundation raises money for the development of a hospital, clinics and educating children in the Ivory Coast, in West Africa. Celebrity backers of the foundation include Princess Beatrice, David Beckham, Bono, Frank Lampard and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

The Mail claims that out of up to five clinics scheduled to be built, only one has been constructed and has no staff or medical equipment. The foundation is now under investigation by the Charity Commission. The commision says it has “serious regulatory concerns about a number of compliance issues raised” and has contacted the charity seeking an urgent response.

David Holdsworth, the chief operating officer at the commission said: “In particular, the commission has concerns about the administration of the charity and the oversight provided by trustees, all of whom appear to live abroad, as well as allegations that the charity has provided misleading information to donors and the public. Further, the charity has raised and accumulated significant sums of money that have not yet been spent and further information is required over the plans to spend those funds. All these issues merit further investigation by the commission.”

In a statement on Instagram, Drogba accused the newspaper of “irresponsible journalism” which he claimed had jeopardised the lives of thousands of African children.

Drogba said all of the foundation’s work since its launch in 2007 was paid for entirely by his sponsorship earnings and donations, totalling €3.7m (£295,000). Projects established by the foundation include a mobile clinic operating in Abidjan, which travels to villages to treat people, a dialysis machine, the Project Against Child Labour scheme, the Heart Schools kits and supporting orphanages.

He said the £1.7m raised by UK fundraising would go towards making the foundation clinic fully operational and paying for medical equipment, staff, medicine and running costs.

“Despite sending legal letters and 67 pages worth of documents advising the Daily Mail that their information was factually incorrect and libellous, they have decided to ignore the facts so I am issuing legal proceedings against them today,” his statement reads.

“They have already caused an untold amount of damage by contacting all of my sponsors, my colleagues and many of my friends who generously helped the foundation with donations, and raise doubts in their mind about whether to continue to support us in the future.

“I come from a poor family and I had to work hard to get where I am today but this would mean nothing to me if I wasn’t ale to give back to my country, my continent, and my community.

“Despite their claims, there is no fraud, no corruption, no mismanagement, no lies, no impropriety.

“Their attempts to destroy the work of the foundation will not deter me and will not stop me continuing the work we have begun.”

A spokesman for the Mail told The Independent: “The Daily Mail stands by every word of this important story which was the result of long and painstaking research by our award-winning investigative team and which has prompted an investigation by the Charity Commission.

“The documents provided to us by the Didier Drogba Foundation failed to address the very serious questions posed by our journalists.

“Despite numerous requests for a comment on the record, no substantive response was provided.

“Our article does not make allegations of fraud or corruption.”

A representative for Drogba declined to comment any further.

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