ZURICH (AP) — FIFA has denied Didier Drogba's request for special permission to leave Shanghai Shenhua on loan before the official transfer period, ending speculation he could join former club Chelsea immediately.
FIFA says it informed Drogba he won't be exempted from international transfer rules while under contract with the Chinese Super League club, whose season ended this month.
Drogba, whose contract expires in 2014, can join another club on a permanent or temporary deal Jan. 1.
The 34-year-old Ivory Coast captain hoped to play extra matches to prepare for the African Cup of Nations, which kicks off Jan. 19 in South Africa.
FIFA upheld its rules in previous cases when making Major League Soccer players David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan wait until January to make loan moves.