Daily Mail reported that the foundation set up by former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba raised more than £1.7 million, after he told supporters the cash would build a hospital and help educate impoverished children in his homeland of Ivory Coast. But, disturbingly, accounts show that less than 1 per cent of the cash it raised in the UK has gone to good causes. He actually sent just £14,115 to Ivory Coast.
More than 30 times that amount — £439,321 — was spent putting on lavish fundraising parties, where the Princess and other famous guests enjoyed champagne and were entertained by leading pop stars — while the rest was left languishing in accounts.
There were also questions last night about millions of pounds in sponsorship earnings from Pepsi, Nike and Samsung, which Drogba claims have gone to the charity.
The money — none of which appears in the charity’s UK accounts — is understood to have been paid into an account in the charity’s name in Ivory Coast.
And while the charity claims all of this sponsorship money has been used for charitable activities, it has not gone through the UK arm and none of these activities have ever been open to scrutiny by the UK Charity Commission.
In addition, the Didier Drogba Foundation has declined to reveal whether the star paid UK income tax on these sponsorship payments, made over six years while he was with Chelsea and living in a £7 million mansion in Surrey.
Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, also said the allegations were ‘extremely worrying’. Specialist forensic accountants who analysed the documents on behalf of the Mail said it was ‘crystal clear’ that ‘virtually nothing’ raised in the UK by the foundation has been spent on charitable activities.
The revelations will also be a serious embarrassment to the UN, which praises the foundation on its website and made Drogba — who enjoys iconic status across Africa — one of its Goodwill Ambassadors in 2007. The UN has also vowed to investigate the claims.
However, Didier Drogba is suing Daily Mail for defamation over this claims. The former Chelsea star issued a statement on his Instagram page saying:
"I come from a poor family and had to work hard to get where I am today but this would mean nothing to me if I wasn't able to give back to my country, my continent and my community," said Drogba.
The striker, now playing for Montreal Impact in the MLS, insisted that there had been "no fraud, no corruption, no mismanagement, no lies" with the company, which is now being investigated by the Charity Commission over "serious regulatory concerns".