Authorities are investigating an underaged trafficking ring in Africa that is reportedly targeting teen African soccer players.
According to BBC News, the players are being taken from West Africa to Asia where they are then forced to sign contracts, binding them to athletic commitments with top Laos side Champasak United in Asia.
To make matters worse, once taken from their home to Asia the teens are made to live in sub-standard living conditions, often sleeping on the stadium floor without windows present or even beds to sleep on.
BBC News offered these additional details on the story:
In a clear breach of the world football governing body’s rules, the club has fielded overseas players as young as 14 and 15 in league games this season.
One 14-year-old player, Liberia’s Kesselly Kamara, who scored in a full league game, says he was forced into signing a six-year deal before playing for the senior team. His contract promised him a salary and accommodation, but Kamara says he was never paid and had to sleep on the floor of the club’s stadium – as did the rest of the travelling party.
“Fifa is in contact with several member associations in order to gather all information to assess the matter and safeguard the interests of the minors,” a Fifa spokesperson told the BBC.
FIFPro, which has investigated the case for four months and which helped release 17 of the 23 players three months ago, said in a statement it “suspects this case is not one of its kind, but probably the tip of the iceberg”.
All those who travelled to join the “IDSEA Champasak Asia African Football Academy” did so after being invited by former Liberia international Alex Karmo, who captained the club at the time.
Young players gratefully accepted the invitation, since Liberia lacks a football academy of its own, despite being the only African country to have produced a Fifa World Footballer of the Year – George Weah in 1995.