The agent involved in Didier Drogba’s £24m transfer to Chelsea, one of the 17 deals highlighted by the Quest inquiry, was paid £700,000 by the London club. According to documents seen by the Guardian the agent, Pierre Frelot, was to receive this sum in tranches, £300,000 on July 31 2004 and £200,000 on the same date in each of the next two years.
Frelot believes the amount earned on the deal led to an attempt to smear him because of the “jealousy” of people “in the football world”.
He had taken control of players who had been on the books of Mondial Promotion, a company whose former owner, Pape Diouf, relinquished his agent’s licence after taking a post at Marseille. Being an agent and a club employee is banned by Fifa. Diouf became Marseille general manager in June 2004, the month before Drogba’s sale to Chelsea was finalised.
Frelot has been investigated in a continuing French judicial inquiry into Paris St-Germain, where he worked before becoming an agent. As part of that he was interviewed in November 2006 about a fax purportedly sent to him by Diouf on May 14 2004, some weeks before Diouf took up his role at Marseille. But this fax is part of what Frelot believes is an attempt to smear him and Diouf, now the club’s president. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Drogba, Chelsea officials or the club itself, which has made clear that if any irregular payments were ever made they were without its knowledge.
The fax, passed to the Guardian by the online magazine Bakchich, stipulates: “The handover of Mondial Promotion [players] will only be able to take place on the sole condition that my partner Thierno Seydi remains in charge of the files that he is taking care of, notably that of Drogba. The commission linked to [Drogba’s] transfer that we are preparing for him to England must equally be taken into account and a minimum 40% paid into the account in Africa that will be indicated at the time of the deal.”
Under these terms, the fax appears to be making arrangements for Diouf to take a cut of the Drogba deal while an employee of the selling club, against Fifa regulations. Frelot insists it is a forgery. He told the judge, in comments he has reiterated to the Guardian, that it appeared the text had been stuck on rather than printed on Mondial Promotion paper and that it was undermined by the lack of a recipient fax number. He also told the judge that Diouf’s true signature was “much bigger” than that on the fax and that by its May 14 2004 date Drogba’s transfer to Chelsea had not been discussed.
Frelot said the anomalies proved the fax a fraud, perpetrated by people put out by his inheritance of Diouf’s players. Quest investigators are said to have been aware of the fax but were unable ever to discuss it with Frelot or Marseille who, because they are not under Football Association jurisdiction, were not obliged to attend meetings.
Frelot’s fee was mentioned in a Chelsea document entitled Agent Commission Agreement. It stated that the commission was in return “for the services provided by the agent in negotiating the contract to be dated July 20 2004 between Chelsea and Didier Drogba”.
The transfer remains the subject of FA investigations after it was highlighted as one of 17 about which there remained unresolved questions. An update is due this month although, with investigations continuing, details of specific transfers are not expected.