Soccer Dreams and the Family-Complicit African Immigration Scam Lead to Destitution

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Africa’s best young soccer players often rely on their sports skills to get them a ticket to Europe, where football clubs offer the best players a way out of poverty. African boys who dream of the bright lights of the top European soccer clubs are enticed by “agents,” who travel to Africa and promise that their dreams will come true for a fee.

These dream merchants, posing as legitimate agents, can take the life savings of the child’s parents by telling them they are going to go to a trial for Europe’s elite soccer clubs. But once the boys arrive in Europe the agent disappears, leaving the boys penniless. Their dreams can turn into nightmares as the youngsters mostly become homeless, prostitutes, or drug-addicts.

Although this fate can be tragic, in many cases the boys and their families are complicit in the scam, because the payment at least gets the boys a valid excuse to travel to Europe, bypassing normal visa requirement, and offering them better opportunities than they might otherwise have.


Nduta Waweru, “As Africa Celebrates Frances’s World Cup Win, Football Slave Trade is Killing Young Black Player’s Dreams,” Face 2 Face Africa, July 16, 2018,

Mark Rowe, “The Human Game–Tackling Football’s ‘slave trade,’” Geographical, July 16, 2018,

Saikat Chekrobarty, “Football’s African Slave Trade.” Tifo Football, October 29, 2018,

Student Researcher: Fabian Mendoza (Indian River State College)

Faculty Evaluator:  Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)