Special Olympics International announced today that acclaimed football legend, Didier Drogba, will be named a Special Olympics Global Ambassador to support the social inclusion movement. The announcement event will take place on Saturday, May 5th at Raymond S. Kellis High School in Glendale, Arizona at 9:00 a.m. PST during the 2018 Special Olympics Arizona Summer Games, where more than 1,600 athletes and Special Olympics Unified Sports teammates from over 60 statewide delegations will compete in various sports.
Special Olympics and Drogba will work together to promote the development of Special Olympics programs that strive towards creating continuous opportunities and empowerment for people with intellectual disabilities, leading to a more inclusive society for all.
“Didier Drogba is a global icon in sports and especially in promoting peace and understanding,” said Special Olympics International CEO, Mary Davis. “Didier is a game-changer both on and off the field of play. He has always prioritized the development of youth to achieve their full potential. As a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics, there is so much we hope to achieve together. Our effort in creating inclusive communities will be accelerated through this relationship, and we are confident Didier will have a life-changing experience with Special Olympics athletes worldwide.”
As one of the most successful football players of all time, Didier Drogba has earned worldwide acclaim both as a professional sportsman and champion for peace in his native Côte d’Ivoire. Born in Abidjan, Drogba moved to France at an early age, becoming a global football player and leading the world-famous Chelsea club in London to multiple championships, including the world-renowned Champions League trophy. Drogba is still Chelsea’s most successful European goal scorer. Altogether, he scored 157 goals in 341 appearances with Chelsea, and helped the club to four English Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups. Drogba stands tall as one of the most powerful sports stars in Africa, twice named African Footballer of the year in his 104 caps for Côte d’Ivoire, amassing a record 65 goals and leading the national team in three World Cups.
“The Africa Region is honored and proud to partner with Didier Drogba for the outstanding, positive spirit he has displayed throughout his career,” said Charles Nyambe, the Regional President and Managing Director for Special Olympics Africa Region. “He has always stood up for social justice and equality, making him uniquely fitting as an advocate in the current world of injustice and intolerance. His offer to stand up and support Special Olympics Athletes defines his greatness.”
Earning acclaim for his humanitarian efforts when the ongoing civil war ravaged Côte d’Ivoire in 2006, Drogba led the nation’s soccer team in prayers for peace. After the World Cup qualifying games, he called for an end to the war, with his efforts in unifying the country around sport eventually helped to bring about a cease-fire.
Drogba has supported Special Olympics since the 2012 Africa Regional Games, especially within his home country, Special Olympics Côte d’Ivoire. His generous donations of sports equipment and personal resources provided support to athletes at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Didier Drogba to our family of Global Ambassadors – as our voice, as our face, as our presence in the heart of Special Olympics,” said Tim Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics International. “I can’t wait to work with Didier to make the world a more joyful and just place for everyone.”
“I am honored to be selected as Special Olympics Global Ambassador,” Drogba shared. “In addition to our common passion for sport and being a positive force of change in societies, I want to contribute in helping Africa and the world by sharing my experiences.”
Drogba’s football career continues as the first player-owner of the Phoenix Rising of the United Soccer League. Drogba remains committed to his philanthropic work, including the Didier Drogba Foundation, which provides financial and material support in both health and education to the African people. The Foundation opened its first school this year in the town of Pokou-Kouamekro. In respect of his humanitarian actions, the 2010 Time magazine issue included Drogba in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.