On Monday we wrote about Montreal Impact striker Didier Drogba refusing to sit on the bench for a major late-season fixture over the weekend. Plenty of people— me included— assumed we wouldn’t see Drogba in a Montreal shirt again.
We may have spoken too soon.
Club president Joey Saputo spoke to the press yesterday and said that Drogba would indeed finish the season in Montreal, including their upcoming run in the playoffs, and will accept whatever role head coach Mauro Biello has for him.
In advance of Montreal’s late-season clash with rivals Toronto FC— which ended in a 2-2 draw and clinched a playoff spot— Drogba was told he wasn’t going to start but would be in the matchday 18. But that wasn’t good enough for the former Chelsea legend, who said if he wasn’t going to start then he wouldn’t bother showing up. And that’s what happened— in what was possibly the most important match of the season for Montreal, Drogba was nowhere near the teamsheet.
After the match, Biello didn’t mince words about the decision and publicized the backroom conflict for the press. That created a sense that this was the end of Drogba’s career in Montreal.
But since then, Drogba sat down to meet with Biello and Saputo, and according to the latter the issues seem to have been ironed out. Saputo says that everyone kissed and made up and Drogba is ready to play a role in the postseason.
”I’m happy to announce that the situation has been resolved to the club’s satisfaction. Didier has accepted to assume the role that the coach sees fit as well contributing to the success of this club moving forward. When he came to Montreal, Didier said that he came here to win, and he still has the same objective. Our main priority now is to focus on the last game of the year and the upcoming playoffs. With the players and leaders we have on this team, we are convinced that we can make a run at the MLS Cup.”
Saputo said that, per the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the player’s union, Drogba will be fined by MLS for missing a team activity without permission. But he also said that would be the extent of Drogba’s punishment, and that no further fines or suspensions would be forthcoming.
The team owner noted that while Drogba’s refusal to dress for the Toronto game was a “distraction,” he never considered cutting the player loose.
For his part, Biello believes Drogba can still play a huge role in the team’s postseason run.
”There was a resolution from both parties and now we’re moving forward. I still believe in Didier, and I still want Didier to come in and be that hero that he was last year.”
The 38-year-old’s contract expires in December.