This summer the Portuguese authorities from Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras raided football clubs and streets in the country’s central region. They found 157 footballers from other countries illegal in the country, 105 of these “players” were African. The young footballers come to Portugal under the promise of playing professional football but end up abandoned by agents and even by the clubs themselves. Many of them end alone, with no money or way of returning home.
These stories from Portugal are every day business in football. Not just in Portugal. But in Spain, France, Belgium, Greece, Italy and so far away places as for example Laos and the Middle East. Or in other words: Human trafficking is a reality in football.
“They bring young people into a country and put them in clubs offering to act as rented wombs for these agents. If players are successful, profits are made from transfer. If they are not and are notified by “Immigration” to return home, they have to pay their own tickets and are abandoned,” Joaquim Evangelista, the president of the Portuguese football players’ union, says to FIFpro.
No Rambo for Portugal
One of the “players” in Portugal was Alexandre Rambo. The young Brazilian went to Portugal to fulfill his dream: To become a professional footballer.
“My agent, Silvio Donizete, reached an agreement with another agent called Eder Lucas Zem. This man told us he had contacts in FC Porto and it was agreed that I would sign to play for the juniors,” the young Brazilian tells FIFPro.
But Rambo never went to FC Porto. He never even spoke to those responsible for the club. He went to AC Alcanenense:
“They told me I would train there to keep me fit. A week later, one of Eder’s employees left me at a hotel in Lisbon.”
A few days later Eder calls Rambo and tells him, there is no deal with FC Porto and the player has to return home.
“He said he would pay the hotel bill and arrange the plane ticket.”
But nothing happens.
“He stopped answering my calls,” Alexandre Rambo explains.
Rambo was on his own. But he managed to get home with help from his agent in Brazil.
Alexandre Rambo’s story is typically. It happens every day somewhere in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It is called trafficking in all other professions… In football…
Sport Executive have previously described trafficking in international football intensely. Take a glance on our magazines on the website: