onlineredaktion – Special Report has uncovered how football is being used as a vehicle for people trafficking.
Our team has been working on an investigation into the illegal activity since the Autumn of 2011 and on Monday’s show exposed FIFA-listed agent Robert N’Kuimy, who wants to sell young players – illegally – for £25k-a-head.
It’s believed that as many as 20,000 footballers have been illegally shipped from Africa to Europe and our reporter Kaveh Solhekol has followed the story from Paris to Switzerland and on to Cameroon.
We’ve uncovered men posing as football agents who ship youngsters to Europe on the false promise of a lucrative playing contract and the stories of the victims who now fear for their lives and the families left with crippling debts.
They include that of Desmond Dubi, who was told he could earn $10,000 a month playing professional football in Malaysia. He is now stranded in France, and his family owe money to loan sharks in Ghana.
He told Special Report: „If I return to Ghana I am supposed to have money to pay. One of my friends who go to Malaysia, the same problem, but he go to Ghana and now he die. I am scared because if I go to Ghana, maybe something will happen, because now the money is going up, interest, so I’m supposed to find something.“
Former Cameroon international Roger Milla revealed that the problem is wide-spread.
„All there is are lots, and lots and lots of people who have been deceived. You can’t run a country by deceiving people, and you can’t run a team by deceiving people. You can’t even run your own family if you deceive people. So a change is needed and for that you need sanctions and only FIFA can do that.“
The success of players of African Origin highlights why traffickers are targeting the continent, with the Premier League currently having 39 players of African Origin, representing 13 different countries.
The Ivory Coast is the most represented, with eight players including three Manchester City players, Abdul Razak Kolo and Yaya Toure.
But the Premier League is a distant second to Ligue 1 in the number of players from Africa, with the French top division having 114 players of African Origin, more than four times the number in La Liga or Serie A.