The two 20-year old players carefully scrutinized the offer they had received and then sought advice from the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), which together with FIFPRO and Portuguese player union SJPF concluded the offers were a scam.
The “scout”, who called himself Fredrick Dawson, used social media platform WhatsApp to contact both players, a goalkeeper and a midfielder.
The goalkeeper was offered a contract at Portuguese third-tier Sport Clube Beira-Mar with a 3,500 euro net monthly salary. “It was strange. They wanted to sign me off the footage they had of me,” the goalkeeper said.
The midfielder could sign a contract worth 1,750 euro net a month if he passed a trial.
“That’s great we thought,” the midfielder’s mother told FIFPRO. “Then I read it again. Something wasn’t right about the text message, the English was not quite correct.”
She got more suspicious when she read her son had to pay 600 GBP for accommodation and food. “Normally the club pays for travel and stay.”
The midfielder called the agent, who told him the club had booked his flight and another player would accompany him. He received digital flight itinerary and called the other player, who didn’t answer his calls.
The midfielder and his mother couldn’t find any information about Dawson on the internet. “I said to myself: this can’t be right and I contacted the PFA,” she said.
The goalkeeper also did his research. “It felt fishy. I noticed spelling mistakes in the contract and the emails were sent from a personal account instead of a club account.”
“The agent said he got my number from a scout at my former academy club, but when I checked, that scout didn’t even remember me or know the agent,” the goalkeeper said.
He contacted a Portuguese goalkeeper on Facebook to check if the club’s offer was realistic. “He told me it was out of their reach.”
The goalkeeper told the agent that the club should call him. “After a while I got a phone call with the worst voice changer, as if I were talking with someone negotiating a ransom for a hostage. The call came from the United States, which was also strange.”
“Then I blocked the agent’s number and went to the PFA.”
Both players reacted wisely and did not pay anything to this person. They tell their stories to prevent that other players are scammed.
“I am desperate to go into football, but not that desperate,” the goalkeeper said. “When he contacted me, I was in no hurry. There was no football due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I had time to assess the situation. But in another moment I could have reacted differently. It was a big contract.”
“It is not about the finances,” the midfielder’s mother said. “Psychologically it was a big letdown for my son. It made him a bit more suspicious with people.”
Reaction from SC Beira-Mar
FIFPRO and Portuguese player union SJPF informed SC Beira-Mar, whose president Hugo Coelho reacted earlier this week by stating that the club has “no relation or connection with the person contacting players with an invitation or proposal”.
Mr. Coelho added: “We must inform you that:
- we did not present an invitation letter of this nature to athletes
- we do not know the person in question
- we have no agent in England
- the invitation letter does not belong to Sport Clube Beira-Mar
- the logo they use is not the Club's official
- the president's name is not correct
- the signature is fake.”