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Exploiting A Dream In African Football Factories

Jul 22, 2008
Over the last decade the global game has been lit up by an explosion of talent bursting onto the scene from Africa. The continent has evolved dramatically since the days when Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) became the first black African team to qualify for the World Cup in 1974.

This foray onto the world stage is most notably remembered for Zaire's Mwepu Ilunga receiving a yellow card against Brazil. The defender was in Zaire's defensive wall awaiting a free kick to be taken. When the whistle was blown, Ilunga sprinted to the ball and launched it upfield. The coverage could have been mistaken for a John Smiths, Ave' It commercial!

In the last decade there has been a plethora of footballing talent emerging from Africa. The likes of George Weah, Jay-Jay Okocha, Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba have reached the pinnacle of the beautiful game. These players have inspired a generation of impoverished children from Liberia, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast.

Disturbing evidence has been uncovered that suggests that there are criminal gangs that are exploiting the dreams of young sportsmen all over the continent. It has been alleged that Nigerian fraudsters have been posing as scouts for top European clubs, preying on naive amateur footballers.

Players as young as twelve post personal details on websites in an attempt to acquire a football agent. These footballers are often from poor backgrounds and have to rely on their families to scrape together fees that will offer their children an opportunity to escape poverty.

The gangs ruthlessly expose the amateur footballers, that are aiming to be discovered by English agents. The amateurs are duped into wiring a 'registration fee' to the conmen to cover the expenses of organising a trial with the club that they pretend to represent. To seal the transaction the gangs offer false promises of 'their clubs' providing food and accommodation for the duration of a two year trial. When they have received the money, the fictional agents simply disappear taking with them many African's dreams.

The naive youngsters seem oblivious to the fact that Europe's top clubs would never demand any fees and that a route to Britain would be blocked due to the fact that it would be impossible for them to be granted a work permit. Yet, these African conmen continue to exploit the dreams of a generation inspired by Weah, Okocha, Eto'o and Drogba.
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