Monday, July 14, 2008

Slavery in football - no laughing matter

For those who didn't realize it, last Friday's post "Verizon drops soccer deal after controversial Sepp Blatter video" was, in part, a parody of a statement (not a video) made by FIFA head Sepp Blatter. I quoted the real statement in the post, taken from Sky Sports News:

If the player wants to play somewhere else, then a solution should be found because if he stays in a club where he does not feel comfortable to play then it's not good for the player and for the club.

I'm always in favour of protecting the player and if the player, he wants to leave, let him leave.

I think in football there's too much modern slavery in transferring players or buying players here and there, and putting them somewhere.

After I wrote my parody, I read two posts in Soccerlens. The first has the expected reaction to Blatter's statement:

Cristiano Ronaldo is not a slave. Slaves don’t make millions of dollars in salary and endorsements. Slaves don’t hold their masters hostage while negotiating a move to another plantation. And slaves certainly don’t go romping on the beaches of Italy with ridiculously hot women like Nereida Gallardo in tow. Basically, if 90% of the world’s population would trade places with you in a heartbeat and think that it’s not fair how great you have it, then you are probably not a slave.

Then I got to the second:

[Jean Claude] Mbvoumin was named one of seventeen “Heroes Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery” by the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Mbvoumin is a former footballer, recruited from the African country of Cameroon in 1995 to play in France.

After retiring from football, Mbvoumin founded the French organization Culture Foot [Solidaire] to raise awareness of the issue of the criminal recruiting and trafficking of young footballers from Africa. “It’s a modern version of the slave trade, and it comes in many different forms,” says Mbvoumin.

Thousands of young African boys dream of leaving their lives of poverty to play football in Europe. The majority of the boys trafficked into Europe come from Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and the Ivory Coast. CFS estimates that in France alone there are more than 7,000 young Africans living on the streets after failed attempts to play for a professional club. Ninety-eight percent are illegal immigrants and 70 percent are younger than 18. Inspired by players like Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o, and buoyed by promises from unscrupulous, unlicensed agents and scouts, their impoverished parents deplete their savings or go into debt to finance their sons’ journeys.

Read the rest of the post here. The Culture Foot Solidaire site (in French) is here.

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