David Datro Fofana’s Chelsea fee could be redistributed over allegations of forged contracts

David Datro Fofana of Burnley despairs at a missed chance during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield on February 10, 2024 in Liverpool, England

David Datro Fofana’s first club will go to the Federal Supreme Court over his controversial departure to Europe and want 20 per cent of his move to Chelsea as part of claims he was “stolen” by Molde FK in Norway.

Abidjan City FC have been unsuccessful in their case against Fofana and Molde at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and intend to take the matter higher. They say he had a professional contract and his move to Molde was unlawful.

The CAS ruling, seen by Telegraph Sport, outlines the accusations of forged contracts and also the level of interest in the Ivory Coast striker before he moved away from Africa and eventually to the Premier League.

Former Olympiacos midfielder Marco Né, president at Abidjan City, insists he is pursuing justice in the case rather than money, saying other African clubs will risk losing their players to European teams unless he fights Molde and Fofana.

“We just want justice,” said Né, who has previously described Fofana as being “stolen”. “Without it, it means big clubs can come and take our players. This is dangerous for African football, not just for me.”

Fofana has been on loan at Burnley and, with four goals in his last seven games, their survival hopes in the Premier League are pinned on the 21-year-old January loan signing from Chelsea. But it is the start of his journey that has been at the centre of a bitter legal dispute for the past three years.

Molde signed Fofana on a free transfer in 2021 but Abidjan City claim he had a professional contract with them. The Ivorian club used handwriting experts to analyse the signature of Valérie Datro, the player’s mother, on a five-year contract. Club sources believe other legal cases can be raised over Fofana’s contract.

“Many clubs would take him if he was free,” said Né. “He was in the national team. How could he be free? Everyone knows that he was under contract. I even talked with Leicester. I spoke with [then assistant] Kolo Touré as he is my brother from the same academy. But everyone helped the move, even the federation.

“We think this is not justice. The player had a licence with us and only with us. He started with us when he was 14 and, when he was old enough, signed for five years in 2017.”

The CAS papers show that Abidjan City had French club Angers lined up as a deal for Fofana, which forms €1.065 million of the claim, plus 20 per cent of the deal to Chelsea which ended up being worth around £13 million. But there was also interest, the papers show, from Ligue 1 club Strasbourg and Waasland Beveren in Belgium, while Brighton were linked with Fofana.

Né also says there was an approach from a third party, rather than directly from clubs, suggesting a financial settlement between all clubs. This was during the time Chelsea were negotiating for Fofana ahead of his move to Stamford Bridge in Dec 2022. “I said no,” added Né.