Didier Drogba officially submitted his bid to become president of the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) in front of a large crowd on Saturday. The 42-year-old is running to head the Francophone West African country’s football governing body against Koffi Kouakou Paul, Sory Diabate and Idriss Diallo, who are the other candidates.
Despite Drogba’s popularity that stretches beyond the shores of the African continent, there are concerns in some quarters that he will not be on the ballot for the elections due on September 5. He needs nominations from three of the 14 Ivorian Ligue 1 clubs, two from the lower divisions as well as endorsements from coaches, doctors, current and former players and referees. Drogba’s candidacy already suffered a big blow after the Ivory Coast Footballers Association (AFI) did not support him and this drew the ire of the African section of the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro), who took swift action in suspending the AFI. “The Board of FIFPro Africa dissociates itself from the position of AFI, who refused to sponsor Didier Drogba, presidential candidate of FIF and deprives its founding member and vice-president of the legitimate support he was entitled to expect from his own family,” The association said in a tweet posted on July 14. Drogba, however, does not seem disturbed by the events counting against him but is rather focused on repairing the bad state of Ivory Coast football. “Football is everyone’s sport, football brings people together, football unites. We can see it today with all these people gathered in front of the headquarters of the Ivorian football federation,” Drogba told the press. “It’s no secret that our football is going badly, and that is why with my team we are committed to contributing to the rebirth of Ivorian football. “If my goal was not driven by a deep desire to give back to Ivorian football all that it has given me, to contribute to the development of football in my country, and if God was not in this candidacy, it would be difficult to be in front of you today.” Drogba represented Ivory Coast between 2002 and 2014 and is the country’s leading scorer with 65 goals from 105 caps, the country’s third-highest tally of international appearances after Didier Zokora (123) and Kolo Toure (120). He played at five Africa Cup of Nations (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013) and three World Cups (2006, 2010 and 2014).