I joined FIFPRO’s Global Player Council earlier this year. The council acts as a voice for professional footballers. There are 35 of us in total – including Giorgio Chiellini, Lucy Bronze and Arturo Vidal – and we provide a player’s perspective on a range of matters, such as the international match calendar, employment standards, the use of personal data, and social media abuse.
One of the main reasons I joined the council was to help address the issue of fake agents. It is a subject I’m passionate about and it is a subject that has become a big challenge, especially in Africa.
Coming from Zimbabwe, I have seen friends and former team-mates lose a lot of money – money they worked hard to earn, money their parents worked hard to earn – due to people pretending to be a football agent. I saw this a lot when I played in South Africa.
A lot of these players were given false promises and sold dreams of playing in Europe. I know some who even flew to Europe only to arrive at the airport and find out no-one was there; the money had already been taken from them by these fake agents with nothing to show for it.
As players, we need to take note of warnings that we get from FIFPRO and player unions on this.
If someone claiming to be a football agent has contacted you through Instagram with a club offer, it only takes five minutes to call your union and ask if this person is registered with FIFA or not. It could save you being scammed out of thousands.
It is up to us as players to take responsibility in asking our unions for advice. They are here for the players.
When a player speaks out individually, they can become a single target. But when you are part of a union, when you are part of a collective, it gives footballers the voice to raise our concerns. A union enables us to find solutions without impacting us as individuals. They play an important role for players.
I first got involved with the domestic union of Zimbabwe, and then later FIFPRO Africa, when I started playing for the senior national team in 2018.
They saw I was a person who was not shy when it came to raising their voice and speaking for others. Some footballers can be afraid or reluctant to raise their voice – which is totally fine, everyone is different – but for me, it's important not to shy away from the issues that affect us as players, rectify problems with solutions and thus help the next generation. Being a voice for others is something that’s been with me since school when I was deputy head boy.
I last played for the national team in late 2021. The Sports and Recreation Commission Zimbabwe (SRC) interfered with the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), which is something prohibited by FIFA, and the men’s, women’s and junior national team sides were subsequently suspended from international football.
It means the men’s senior side couldn’t take part in the latest Africa Cup of Nations qualifying – I think most probably we won't be able to take part in World Cup qualification either – and it also prevents Zimbabwean clubs from competing in the CAF Champions League.
So many Zimbabwean players are being denied a great opportunity here; so many players in their prime being unable to play on the continental and international stage. But most importantly, Zimbabwe’s suspension is having a negative social-economic effect on the country.
I feel the association should have done better when it came to discussing with FIFA and finding a possible solution not to affect the young generation that is there – because the talent in Zimbabwe is there. It has been seen by players that have moved to Europe and also by me playing here in France.
This month, we could have been playing World Cup semi-finalists Morocco – the only African team to ever make the final four on the global stage – and it would have been a celebration. Their first competitive game on the back of that historic World Cup run would have been against Zimbabwe. The country has been denied what would have been such a special occasion.
So, this stand-off between the SRC and association, which caused the national team to be suspended by FIFA, is having that negative social-economic impact on the country.
Likewise, if Mo Salah was coming to Zimbabwe with Egypt, the stadium is going be full. People are going to buy tickets; the hotels are going to be booked up. Same applies if Sadio Mane and Senegal were coming to town.
It is important for us players to speak up about issues like this – and the situation in Zimbabwe is one of the reasons I joined FIFPRO’s Global Player Council. It helps highlight how instances such as this are putting the younger generation, particularly in Africa, at a disadvantage.
As players, we have a voice. And through a union, we can use that collective voice to push for positive change. I will keep on using my voice to help the next generation in Africa and beyond.