Drogba Cautions African Players

Didier Drogba


Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has said that football players in Africa should be wary of fake agents peddling promises of fame and fortune.

Through his foundation, Drogba has teamed up with global football players union FIFPRO and the International Labour Organisation to raise awareness about the risks.

“Please, I need you to hear this,” the former Ivory Coast international said in an animated campaign video to players. “Be very careful who you trust. Never trust the person who wants your money.”

FIFPRO recently surveyed 263 players from seven African countries and found that more than 70% were contacted unsolicited by someone who promised to help them switch clubs.

Most often, players approached were offered the chance of a trial (43%) or a contract with a club (39%) — and 56% did not get a trial promised to them, while 44% did not sign a contract they expected to sign.

“FIFPRO has heard many stories about players being approached by people pretending to be agents that promise to arrange a trial or a contract with a new club,” FIFPRO said in a statement.

“The reality is less glamorous… In some of the worst cases, players find themselves stranded abroad without money to return home.”

Drogba said that young players in particular are at risk in their eagerness to secure an agent.

“Your best agent is not the guy you may trust, the best agent you can have is your performances,” Drogba told reporters in a video call this week. “This never lies. So the more you perform, the more clubs are coming to watch you play.

“What I see is a lot of kids looking for an agent to find me a club. That’s not how it works. It’s the performance that gets the attention of the clubs and good agents.”

As part of FIFA’s new regulations, as of October 1, 2023, every football agent must have a FIFA licence, which requires passing an exam.

The campaign includes a pamphlet for players with practical advice such as how to identify a fake agent, what to look for in a contract, and a player’s rights as a foreign employee.

“Some of our friends paid their entire family savings, everything they had, but they never played abroad,” Drogba said in his animated video. “Instead, they were left stranded at an airport, or in a shabby space, under a stadium with 20 others, or living under a bridge or even thrown in jail in Asia.

“And I’m not talking about one player. But thousands just like you, with the same hopes and dreams who have been cheated and left with nothing… I don’t want you to be the next.”