African legend and former Chelsea star Didier Drogba was on Thursday dismissed from his role as an advisor to CAF president Ahmad Ahmad.
Reports in an Ivorian sports website Press Cote d'Ivoire, the former Ivory Coast captain was relieved of his duties barely a year in the position. The publication quoted popular African football journalist Mamadou Gaye.
Drogba and CAF are yet to comment on the issue.
The move comes as no surprise for those who have been following the happenings at Cairo-based African body in recent months. The schism between the two African football servants has been growing stealthily but stealthily and it was just a matter of time before it came to the limelight.
In July 2019, Ahmad named Drogba and former Cameroon skipper Samuel Eto'o as his Special Advisors. In a statement released by CAF, Ahmad termed the appointment as "massive" and will be crucial in moving African football to the next level.
“I have worked regularly with Eto’o and Drogba and asked for advice from them in certain areas. They shared with me lots of things and I believe now we should formalize their roles,” he said at the time.
He described Drogba as a resourceful person who will help in mobilise football legends for the betterment of football on the continent.
“Drogba will be in charge of finding contacts and expertise and perhaps work with certain legends for the improvement of football in the continent and Eto’o will be in charge of relations with federations and other confederations. They will help me in these two areas,” the President noted.
But Drogba's appointment had drawn lots of raised eyebrows as he has not attended a single CAF event nor match since he was named to the role.
He has largely focused on personal projects as well as football development activities in his native nation. A month after he was appointed to CAF, he hinted at running at Ivory Coast Football Federation (FIF) presidency.
The only event he was present was a seminar on Development of Competitions and Infrastructure in Africa in the Moroccan city of Sale. The gathering brought together African football and was addressed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Ahmad.
It was at this event that a CAF Legends team was formed and tasked with inspecting continent's sporting infrastructure to ensure that they meet international standards.
It was here in Morocco that Infantino made an ambitious proposal to shift the Africa Cup of Nations from a two-year cycle to being held after every four years.
This proposal has proved divisive and might have played a role in Drogba's dismissal.
It is understood that CAF hierarchy is not in agreement with FIFA boss on this proposed shift but Drogba has voiced his support loudly and clearly. He has also been supported by former Tunisia captain Radhi Jaidi.
On the other hand, Eto'o a trusted ally of the CAF president firmly opposed the suggestion. It is instructive to note Eto'o made the comments in company of Ahmad and a week led a CAF delegation to Rwanda to inspect Kigali's Amahoro Stadium.
The other possible reason for the fallout can be traced to Drogba's strong ambition to succeed Augustin Sidy Diallo at FIF. Diallo is a strong ally to Ahmad. The outgoing FIF committee is understood to be supporting Diallo's deputy Sory Diabate to take over the presidency.
As Drogba embarked on his FIF presidency campaigns, a former FIF boss Jacques Anouma announced that he will be seeking to oust the embattled Ahmad from CAF's bottomless dollars. Anouma is a close friend to Drogba. Though not openly, Drogba is perceived to be behind Anouma's candidature.
CAF financial mess
It is also understood that Drogba supports Infantino's efforts at reforming CAF and clearing the financial mess that was unearthed by a PwC audit report. The report paints a picture of a body that doesn't account for funds received from FIFA, uses the funds for non-football activities and generally doesn't care about administrative and governance procedures.
Ahmad is currently a subject of an ethics inquiry by FIFA as well as a criminal investigation by French authorities over irregular payments to a Tactical Steel, a French sports equipment firm.
CAF and Ahmad have denied any wrongdoing and have tried to explain various discrepancies highlighted in the PwC.
By Thursday evening CAF had not issued any statement on this dismissal.