Football: Laos federation to probe alleged trafficking of teenage African players

BANGKOK (AFP) - The Laos football federation pledged on Tuesday to investigate a local club over allegations teenage African players were trafficked to the country and forced to sign contracts without adequate pay.

The probe follows a BBC report quoting teenage players alleging they were forced to live in miserable conditions at an academy run by Champasak United, a club based in the southern Laos city of Pakse.

"We have sent people to the site for a full investigation, including interviews with the players," Xaybandith Rasphone, general secretary of the Laos Football Federation said.

The BBC interviewed former academy players at the club who described being tricked into travelling to the isolated south-east Asian nation with the promise of good pay.

Instead they allege they were forced to sign lengthy contracts, received little of the promised cash and had to sleep on the floor of the club's stadium.

"It was very bad because you can't have 30 people sleeping in one room," 14-year-old Liberian footballer Kesselly Kamara, now playing for a club back home in Liberia's top league, was quoted as saying by the BBC.

The British broadcaster said 17 teenagers returned home three months ago after Fifa were made aware of the allegations but six minors chose to remain at the club.

Champasak United, a relatively new club that plays in the Laos top league, denied the allegations on Tuesday.