Football hopefuls fall victim to trafficking scheme
Representatives from Britain’s Premier League have expressed concern over growing networks of traffickers targeting young football hopefuls. The traffickers have been found to pose as agents seeking up and coming foreign players, providing false promises of playing for top clubs in the UK. It is estimated that over 2000 minors have fallen victim to the scheme.
Young hopefuls with dreams of playing soccer professionally in the UK are enticed to handover large sums of money for visas, passports and travel costs. The reality upon arrival is much darker, being forced into slavery, prostitution and drug trade. Some individuals are also abandoned upon arrival, with the money they invested into the move being taken, papers proving to be false, and no way of returning home. Many individuals have also found themselves taken to Nepal, a centre for football trafficking due to the country’s relaxed visa policies. In 2017, more than 100 people entered Nepal, with up to 80% shelling out thousands of dollars to ‘agents’ ahead of the move.
This is not the only form of trafficking that has been uncovered in the football world. A number of academics have uncovered several professional clubs trafficking and employing minors, and paying well under industry standard for players to join their teams.
FIFA have responded to these allegations by placing stricter rules and bans on the registration and international transfer of players under the age of 18.