UNICEF statistics indicate more than 1 million people worldwide are subject to human trafficking and some of this trade is sports-related. Few will argue with footballs position as the No.1 sport in the world. But as discovered, fraudulent individuals/traffickers who pose as agents are using footballs global popularity and bright lights of Europe’s elite clubs as a lure for Africa’s vulnerable youth, using contracts that look attractive on paper but in reality lead to exploitation/abuse. Human trafficking in sports such as football, is widespread in many African countries. The football-driven movement of African youth to Europe leaves a murky trail, one that includes human-trafficking, fraud, sexual exploitation, forced labor, organ harvesting, drug-dealing and in majority of cases broken dreams. Young footballers leave family and spend large amounts of money on fake and unlicensed agents after been tricked to chase their dreams abroad when in reality, there is often no club waiting for the player. It's estimated that more than 15,000 children are trafficked into Europe every year with false hopes of making it as professional footballers.
The charity, Culture Foot Solidaire (CFS) calculates that, shady football agents pocket anywhere between £2,000 and £6,500 for each child they sent to a fictitious trial. To meet these cost, victim’s family will often sell possessions or take other siblings out of school. Once in Europe, there is no trial, they are abandoned at the airport and often absorbed into the black markets and underground economies of European cities.
In this light, as part of offering a practical solution, we are developing an interactive mobile application to help fight human trafficking through sports. This app shall be designed for young African footballers to conveniently verify within seconds whether an approaching agent is legally registered and in good standing as an FA FIFA licensed agent or intermediary, and to safely collect and report information on suspicious and shady agents. It will also serve as a learning resource by delivering weekly messages and links on; how to spot signs of football-trafficking, risks involved, understanding contracts and whether a trial offer abroad is real or not. Our aim is to equip every young footballer with a convenient resource-tool that empower and protect them from traffickers and rogue agents, and also help collaboration with security agencies to monitor reported cases for leads and trends.
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