1 Jun 2010

Soccer Slavery

On a pitch strewn with broken glass and bordered by an asbestos mine and a canal of rotting sewage, dozens of young lads chase a football - and an unlikely dream.

They are pupils at one of the thousands of unlicensed soccer schools in Africa. Their families have often given up everything in the hope that their boys can become the next Michael Essien or Didier Drogba.


Coach Isaac Aloti, 23, runs the school in Accra and tells The Sun: "These are my boys. I have their contracts, their parent's signatures - they will go for trials in London when they are ready. "They will go far and they will help me go far."

In the lawless backstreets of the Ghanaian capital and the city of Abidjan in neighbouring Cote D'Ivoire, "soccer slavery" - the trafficking of child footballers from Africa to Europe - is big business. It is a trade in exploitation that snares truly talented young players into binding contracts that will ensure any future fortunes will go to ruthless agents, and not their families.

More on The Sun