Sadly, slavery is not dead after all. This video shows a scene from the documentary “Soccer’s Lost Boys.” In this video, correspondent Mariana van Zeller goes undercover to explore the last, desperate hope of young West African players living illegally in Paris: a pick-up game with sketchy middle-men who try to sell the players to outside agents.
The reason that FIFA, the governing body of the sport, has decided to hold the World Cup in Africa for the first time has nothing to do with the beauty of safari Africa–featured so prominently in ESPN’s promo package–with its epic vistas and silhouetted giraffes. The passion for soccer in Africa lives in less picturesque places, like the war-torn Ivory Coast and the coastal slums of Accra. The World Cup is being held in Africa because the future of soccer is very much entwined with the future of the developing world.
The trafficking of young African players may be news to soccer’s many millions of fans, but it’s an open secret among those who oversee the sport. A few years ago, Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president, even accused top European clubs of “social and economic rape” in their search for new talent in Africa. But despite those harsh words, little has actually been done.
Now that FIFA is raking in billions of dollars in TV rights and sponsorships from the Cup in Africa, perhaps it’s time to give a little back. The most popular sport in the world shouldn’t be turning its back on thousands of its own.
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