Football: African footballers 'prey' for child traffickers

DAKAR (AFP) - Most African footballers who go to Europe fail and become prey for child traffickers, the president of a solidarity association said on Tuesday (Dec 8).

"The failure rate (for African footballers in Europe) is higher than amongst European players due to cultural reasons," said Jean-Claude Mbvoumin, president of the Football Solidarity Association, at an event in Dakar aimed at protecting young African footballers.

"The failure rate for African players is very high... we don't know what happens to 70 per cent of children." Mbvoumin, a former Cameroon international, said two of the factors that contribute to this failure are isolation and the relative cold of Europe.

And he said the young players need to be surveilled to keep them out of the hands of child traffickers.

"The child traffickers have a lot of ideas," he said.

"We need to accompany young footballers so that they have a minimum of protection.

"(We need) their parents to understand that there is a legal path to becoming a professional footballer."

The event's organisers said 15,000 child footballers every year leave 10 west African countries while 1.5 million train in academies with the specific objective of emigrating.