Franck Ndomo is a professional footballer from Cameroon. He shared his experiences with FIFPRO as part of a campaign to raise awareness about people pretending to be football agents.
By Franck Ndomo
Last year, I was presented with an offer to play in Ghana. I would later find out, though, that was not really the case.
I had initially ended my football career, having experienced from 2014 to 2021 how some managers and leaders of clubs in Cameroon make footballers work without pay and actively prevent all forms of demands.
However, shortly after quitting, I was contacted by Fabrice Djetou, a former team-mate whom I played with at Tonnerre Kalara Club. He told me he had just signed a contract with a team in Ghana, West Africa Football Academy (WAFA). He offered to put me in touch with his manager, who had found the club.
I started communicating with his manager, who told me that he would submit my videos and CV to the club’s coaching staff. A few days later, he sent me the club's documents, which I had to fill out and return to him. After I did this, he messaged me that I should be present in Kumasi, Ghana on 1 September 2022.
I travelled by road because I did not have sufficient means to take a flight. In fact, Fabrice had put me in contact with people who would take care of my travel to Kumasi for a sum of money. The journey was very difficult and it took me five days to get there. At each border I found members of the network – let’s call them that – who facilitated the crossing.
Once in Kumasi I informed the manager, who told me that my team-mate Fabrice would pick me up. However, when I asked Fabrice on WhatsApp to come and pick me up, he told me he couldn't do it because he was busy. He instead gave me directions where I could find him. This was the first red flag.
After three hours, I arrived at the place. I still didn't see him. I had to call and tell him I was there. Then he appeared out of a corridor accompanied by another person whom he introduced as his team-mate and captain from Senegal. They took me to a hotel, where they asked me to give them the money I had on me in order to pay for the nights that I would be staying until I had finalised my deal with the club.
I contacted the manager and told him about this situation. He asked me to pay first, so I gave a good part of my savings to them.
A few moments later, they told me I had to give them 800,000 FCFA (1,300 USD) before joining the club. According to them, this money would be used to renew my identity – to give me Ghanaian nationality – and to pay the insurance.
I asked Fabrice, “Why did you not tell me this from the start?”. He said he thought the manager had done it. I contacted the manager, and he said he thought that Fabrice had informed me about it… Then the manager asked me to pay the 800,000 CFA francs. That's when I realised I had fallen for a scam.
When I asked them if I could go and see the facilities, they told me I had to pay the 800,000 FCFA first before anything else. I had not seen the pitch yet, nor the manager, nor the contract – nothing at all. The only people I had met so far were Fabrice and his accomplice. I thought to myself, I need to get out of this ambush.
I spent two days with them in the hotel room. I was not allowed to leave because they told me that my papers were worthless as I had entered Ghana illegally and the police were roaming the area from time to time.
I realised they were attracted by money, so I prepared a plan. I asked my Ghanaian friend in Accra to pretend to be my uncle to whom my aunt in Cameroon had sent 500,000 FCFA. I made Fabrice and his accomplice believe that my family had sent the money to my uncle living in Accra, who would add 300,000 FCFA to make it 800,000 FCFA. I asked them to let me go to Accra to collect the money. After some hesitation, they finally took the bait and agreed to let me get the money.
That is how I managed to escape from their hands and find myself in Accra, where I was welcomed by my friend who hosted me in his house for several weeks.
I contacted my player union, SYNAFOC, who put me in contact with their counterpart in Ghana, the Professional Footballers Association of Ghana (PFAG). Unfortunately, as Ghana doesn’t have a Cameroonian embassy, I had to go to Côte d'Ivoire because it was the closest country that has one. There, I had to get my documents corrected and arrange the money to buy a return plane ticket. After seven months of fruitless battles in Côte d'Ivoire, I managed to get my pass and ticket with help from SYNAFOC and the Union of Professional Footballers of Côte d'Ivoire (UFPCI).
I learned a lot from this misadventure. I no longer trust anyone blindly; I avoid taking hasty decisions in anger or when I am desperate because this often leads to regrettable situations like my misadventures in West Africa.
To my fellow Cameroonian footballers, I would say be very careful. If you are offered a trial or a supposed contract abroad, immediately inform your union, so they can carry out some checks. You need to arrange that the club sends you an invitation letter, a plane ticket, and a hotel reservation. No matter what the promises are, don't travel at your own expense.