Didier Drogba Foundation to be investigated by Charity Commission
The Didier Drogba Foundation is to be investigated by the Charity Commission over "serious regulatory concerns," but the former Chelsea striker and Ivory Coast international vehemently denies any wrongdoing and has vowed to take legal action over a report by the Daily Mail which sparked the probe.
The investigation follows the release of the Mail story which alleged that Drogba's foundation misused charitable donations intended to fund development projects in his home country of Ivory Coast.
Drogba, who now plays at MLS franchise Montreal Impact, has described the report as "factually incorrect and libellous."
David Holdsworth, chief operating officer at the Charity Commission, said in a statement: "We have serious regulatory concerns about a number of compliance issues raised and have contacted the Didier Drogba Foundation to seek an urgent response.
"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."
The Mail report claimed that less than one percent of the £1.7 million raised by the foundation in the UK -- £14,115 -- actually reached West Africa, with £439,321 spent on holding lavish fundraising parties attended by Princess Beatrice, pop stars, celebrities and many of Drogba's former Chelsea teammates.
It is also alleged in the report that, despite promising to build a hospital and five other clinics in Ivory Coast, Drogba's foundation has so far overseen the construction of just one clinic, which is yet to open and is not staffed.
Drogba has vowed to take legal action over the report.
A spokesman for the Didier Drogba foundation told the Mail that "there is no truth whatsoever in these allegations," and shortly after the publication of the report the former Chelsea striker published his own strongly-worded statement via his social media accounts.
"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," the statement read.
"The Daily Mail by such irresponsible journalism are jeopardising the lives of many thousands of African children. The effect on these kids in need of healthcare and education is unimaginable.
"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 put doubts in their mind about whether to continue to support us in the future.
"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."
The UK Charity Commission has launched an investigation into the Mail's allegations while the UN -- which made Drogba one of its Goodwill Ambassadors in 2007 -- is also reportedly set to look into the claims.
Drogba, who won 12 major trophies across nine seasons at Chelsea and was voted the club's greatest ever player by supporters in 2012, is currently in the final year of his contract in Montreal and is widely expected to return to Stamford Bridge in a coaching capacity when he calls time on his playing career.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.