Trafficking of young African players still rampant

Fri Nov 8, 2013 5:58am EST
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By Brian Homewood

GENEVA (Reuters) - Hundreds of African teenagers are still being led abroad by false agents promising soccer riches only to be abandoned on the streets of European countries, according to a charity that is trying to deal with the problem.

Jean-Claude Mbvoumin, a former Cameroon international who heads the Culture Foot Solidaire group (CFS), said it was estimated that up to 15,000 young African players were taken abroad every year under false pretences.

Mbvoumin said that the agents, often using fake business cards allegedly issued by European clubs, approached the players' families, promising a lucrative contract abroad in exchange for a fee ranging between 3,000 and 10,000 euros ($13,400).

"In Africa, you have the dream, everyone wants to be Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure," Mbvoumin told Reuters in an interview.

"There's the big dream and the families don't have good information. They pay money, they think the children will succeed in football and they leave the children with unknown people."

FIFA has introduced tougher rules on international transfers, especially those involving players under 18 which are only authorized once a long list of requirements have been fulfilled.

Soccer's world governing body says that its electronic Transfer Matching System (TMS) has dramatically cut down on minors moving abroad.

But Mbvoumin said that TMS only applied to official academies and clubs, whereas most academies in Africa were unofficial and the players therefore unregistered.   Continued...