Monday, January 19, 2015

The football slave trade

Ivory Coast footballer, Wilfried Bony, has moved from Swansea City to Manchester City for 28 million pounds and a salary of a 100,000 pounds a week. It is a profit margin for Swansea of about 130 percent on their original investment. He is now the most expensive footballer from Africa

Such wealth is obscene but let us think a bit further. Isn’t it a continuance of a trade in people except the chains are not of iron but of gold. It is little different from the buying and selling of expensive throughbred race-horses.

German midfielder, Christoph Kramer, released to thenewspaper Der Spiegel about the transfer market and its position in this regard: “The transfer market is a modern slave trade. If I do not want to play in a team, I will not play on that team. I'll decide where to go.” 

UEFA president Michel Platini, speaking to the European parliament in 2009, said: “Paying a child to kick a ball is not that different from paying a child to work on a production line. Both amount to exploiting child labour. And when you pay a child or their parents to travel overseas, when you uproot them from their home environment, when you make them emotionally disorientated, I call that child trafficking.” 

No matter how many official protective measures are in place, bad practice is the norm. The gap between the riches on offer for successful footballers and the poverty-stricken reality of the young players who dare to dream is so wide and the lure of an opportunity – no matter how unlikely – is too great to resist. The youngsters and their families are easy to string along. Last year, FIFA-listed Cameroon agent Robert Nkuimy was caught on camera allegedly offering to sell trafficked African footballers as young as 14 for £25,000 apiece to undercover reporters posing as representatives of a European club. The exploitation of young Africans not only continues – but is on the increase. It seems that football’s slave trade has never been healthier.

For now all eyes are on the African Nations Cup but, for sure, there will be many eyeing up the players' physique and prowness, much as they would at a slave market in times gone by.  

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