Monday, February 11, 2008

Football Trafficking

The African Nations Cup tournament is over and Egypt are the winner , defeating Cameroon . Whoooooopeeeee !!

Socialist Banner reported previously on the new exploitation of the football scout and the poor yet talented youngsters of Africa and and now another BBC report describes the people trade industry in the world of soccer :-

Football is more than a sport; it is a weaver of dreams.
It can fulfil the hopes of a young boy and his family trying to escape poverty like Michael Essien - now worth millions and playing for Chelsea - or Didier Drogba from neighbouring Ivory Coast, one of the best strikers in the world.
A well as hope there is greed, as unscrupulous adults traffic increasing numbers of African youngsters to Europe, exploiting their dreams, then abandoning them.

Fahd Abu Bakari is a 16-year-old Ghanaian who lives in Accra.
He told us he wanted to be the new Michael Essien and that agents were always turning up to his club's games.
"Finding the money for the visa and passport to go to Europe is not easy," he said. "Some boys ask their families to help them and then when they're successful they will pay them back."
Fahd's mother Christiana Kissiwah says she would love her son to go to Europe. She makes a modest living cooking and selling food from a stall outside her home. Success in Europe will of course not only realise her son's dreams but also those of his family - to live a better life.

But Fahd and his parents are easy prey for the growing number of unlicensed so-called football academies and agents in Ghana. They claim - for a fat fee - that they can introduce a youngster to a top European club. Sometimes that fee is raised by desperate parents selling their home, handing over the deeds or selling family heirlooms like jewellery.

The European Union says it is concerned about the trafficking of African children for football . The charity Save the Children is working hard to inform African families of the dangers of dealing with unlicensed agents and middlemen.

Karim Haggui, a 24-year-old Tunisian who plays for Bayer Leverkusen in Germany but competed this month in the African Cup in Ghana in response to the Quatari largest talent search in soccer history, a screening of 400,000 boys his age across seven African countries., said :-
''There are a lot of youngsters a lot of talent who are here and who finish their careers in Africa without anyone ever seeing them,'' Haggui said. But if Africans end up playing for another country's national team, he added, ''it becomes commerce.''

But for the poor, football will always be an attractive way to escape poverty-stricken lives - so stamping out exploitation won't be easy.

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