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Didier Drogba is a fierce competitor off the field too.

The former Chelsea striker has campaigned for peace in his native Ivory Coast, donated millions of euros in sponsorship fees to build a hospital and stood up for the rights of less prominent players.

In a message to mark the 50th birthday of world players union FIFPro, Drogba said he supported the work of the group which seeks to protect footballers against unpaid wages and mistreatment by unscrupulous club executives.

“Too many players aren’t paid each month and their contracts aren’t respected -- that's unacceptable,” Drogba said in a video message shown to FIFPro members in Amsterdam.

“Football shouldn’t be above the law.”

Drogba is Honorary President of FIFPro Division Africa.

There are frequent examples of abuse of players in the region.

A four month investigation by FIFPro this year that uncovered the illegal trafficking of 23 African teenaged players in Laos apparently with a view to the ringleaders profiting from their transfer fees.

The players had to sleep in a windowless room on a the floor of the club’s stadium. One of the teenagers said it was “like slave work.”

Drogba, who plays for Montreal Impact, filmed the video in Paris at the offices of the Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionnels (UNFP), one of 58 FIFPro members.

Dozens of other players have publicly supported FIFPro’s work in the last few days on social media.

“We footballers stand together, proud and united and it’s this solidarity that gives us our strength,” Drogba said. “Together with our national union and FIFPro we can defend the rights of all footballers around the world.”