Scammers posing as talent escorts are becoming the next big threat to the game of football, and the use of social media is what makes their job relatively easy. Thousands of poverty-stricken children from Africa, hoping for their fortune to change, are paying huge heaps of money. Moreover, the fake hopes of sending children to the UK and Europe and make them play in Premier League club is what adds fuel to the fire.
Children, as young as 13 years, are given fake passports and sent to isolated areas, asking them to wait for visas. However, the documents never turn, leaving behind the children with no cash or identification.
As the life comes to a standstill, they are often forced into illicit activities, such as, drug dealing, slavery or prostitution. According to a stat issued by Sunday People Investigation, 15,000 vulnerable kids are annually trafficked following the same pattern.
FIFA’s former head of security, ex-Interpol agent Chris Eaton said “There are thousands of African children who tricked and even trafficked to European countries.”
Nigerian Andrew Gerald was 18 when his family was made fool, and had to pay a huge amount of money. The family was convinced that their son had the potential to play in Premier League club. It happened at the time when he used to play for Lagos and was approached by a conman.
The talent escort told Andrew that he could go for trials in Romania, and his family Arranged £700 for the same. However, he was flown to Senegal, where we was asked to wait for his visa. However, the documents never arrived and he spent the next 14 years of his life before finally escaping.
He said “I trusted this guy. He promised I could become a pro. I lost everything. I couldn’t afford to leave and I didn’t want to give up my dream of playing football.
“These agents give you a dream of becoming the next Didier Drogba or Jay-Jay Okocha.
“I know two boys who paid thousands to play at Tottenham. They were abandoned and there were no trials.”
Clearly, the children are fooled in the name of earning fame at the very early stage of their career. However, Premier League clubs have made significant tries to reach the masses and educate them about the fake agents that lure them.
Nonetheless, the efforts seem to go in vain as over 100 youths are tricked every year, who end up paying the big prize.