In collaboration with the Didier Drogba Foundation and the International Labour Organization (ILO), FIFPRO Africa has launched a campaign to raise awareness of African players being targeted and scammed by people pretending to be football agents.
FIFPRO Africa aims to empower players by warning them of the risks, providing education on the issue, and ultimately equipping them with the knowledge to protect themselves against these 'agents'.
“Africa is proud of its world-class footballers," said Côte d'Ivoire and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba. "Unfortunately, for every great success story there are many migrant players who see their dreams shattered. Those young people can find themselves facing great difficulties being alone in a foreign country; with no family and no network of acquaintances, they are totally vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”
FIFPRO Africa President Geremi, a two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner, said: “Within FIFPRO Africa, with the active support of CAF and the help of our partners, particularly the ILO and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), this is the future that we want to offer to African footballers, because it is the only way to ensure progress, success and social justice.”
Why this campaign?
FIFPRO has heard many stories about players – sometimes even youth players – being approached by people pretending to be football agents, who are promising to arrange a trial or a contract with a new club. Regularly that club is located abroad with these ‘agents’ painting a picture of a successful future with the player becoming famous and earning a lot of money for them and their family.
The reality, though, is less glamorous. Despite promises, there is no trial and no contract with a club. There are also many instances of players paying a substantial amount of money to these ‘agents’ before ending up stranded abroad with no money, no contract, and no club.
Of course, there are many football agents who do act in the best interests of players. However, in this campaign, FIFPRO Africa and its member unions are trying to prevent footballers being scammed by fake agents. FIFPRO Africa wants to raise awareness among players about the risks, educate them about how to identify a possible scam, and advise them to contact their national player union or FIFPRO when in doubt.
In an effort to get an impression of how often footballers are approached in Africa, FIFPRO Africa recently distributed a survey among players with the help of African player unions.
In total, 263 professional men’s and women’s players from seven countries participated: Botswana, Cameroon, DR Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- More than 70% of players were contacted by a person who said they could help them move to another club.
- Around 80% of players who were contacted were approached more than once; 50% three times or more.
- 36% of players were approached via social media; 45% said they were contacted in person.
- 43% of players approached were offered a trial (43%) or a contract (39%) with a club.
- 27% of players approached mentioned that they had a bad experience with this person.
- 78% of players approached indicated one or more things that this person did not arrange properly.
- 56% of players approached did not get the trial that was promised to them.
- 44% of players approached did not sign the contract that they expected to sign.
- 38% of players said they know someone who had a bad experience.
- 70% indicated they had not been educated on agents or intermediaries.
The results of the survey indicate:
- Most players were approached by people pretending to be agents.
- Most players who were approached had disappointing experiences with people pretending to be agents.
- One in four players who were approached said they had a bad experience with an agent.
- Most players were not educated about dealing with agents.
Raising awareness: Taking responsibility
FIFPRO Africa and its member unions aim to empower players, make them aware about this issue and ensure they take their own responsibility. FIFPRO Africa advises players to:
- Never pay an agent before signing a contract with a club.
- Only work with an agent you have seen and spoken with.
- Check if the agent is registered with a football association or has a FIFA license from October 2023.
- Never sign a deal with an agent without first seeking legal advice.
- Ask if the club knows you are coming for a trial or knows the agent.
- Contact your player union.
- If your country doesn’t have a player union, contact FIFPRO.
FIFPRO Africa wants to make players aware that before going on a trial, they should have answers to the following questions:
- To which club in which country am I going?
- Do the club and the manager know about my trial?
- How many players will be at the trial?
- Is travel arranged?
- Is accommodation arranged?
- Who will cover the costs?
- Do I need a visa or working permit?
- What happens if my trial is not successful?
- What happens if I get injured? Am I insured?
- What are the working conditions or club facilities?