It is already well known that Africa is not the easiest continent to hit it as a big soccer star. A report by the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro) shows just how difficult it is to make the soccer star dream a reality in most countries in Africa.
FIFPro, a global soccer player union, released their annual employment report which showed that African-based professional soccer stars play under terrible conditions.
This is not exactly news, Nigeria’s super Falcons recently won the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) and had to protest non-payment of bonuses and allowances by the Nigerian government. Although the bonuses have now been released, the players are refusing to surrender the trophy until they are paid entitlements dating back to eight match bonuses and other allowances.
Still, Nigeria was not featured in FIFPro’s 2016 Global Employment Report. The group surveyed 13 African countries, compiling responses to anonymous surveys of professional soccer club players. The results of the survey showed that delayed pay was a common problem for footballers in African countries.
There was also a lack of work contracts for the players and player safety or medical support was also a poorly represented area. These dire conditions make African players susceptible to advances from match-fixing cartels.
Of the 13 African countries surveyed, here are the percentage of players who reported unpaid salaries;
- Gabon- 96%
- Tunisia- 94
- Cameroon- 85
- Morocco- 84
- Egypt- 67
- Namibia- 54
- Kenya- 43
- Botswana- 41
- Zimbabwe- 37
- Ivory Coast- 31
- Democratic Republic of Congo- 26
- South Africa- 25
- Ghana- 23
These poor conditions motivate players to illegally make their way to foreign countries in search for better conditions. The risk inherent in doing this is very high and is probably best represented by the story of the Gambian national women’s goalkeeper who died this year while trying to migrate to Europe.
Some players who do not go the route of migration are nonetheless left susceptible to pretend agents who swindle them or trick them into joining trafficking rings in Europe.
Didier Drogba, who used to be the Ivory Coast national team captain and is now the honorary president of FIFPro’s Africa Division, spoke on these sad realities:
“In Africa, football is not like other jobs. For many players, it’s their only source of income and it takes up all of their time, … Africa’s professional footballers must be treated as proper employees. Only then will they be able to perform to their best. The continent as a whole stands to gain.”
Hopefully, conditions will get better and Africa will stop losing every potential soccer star to foreign countries, cold seas or trafficking rings.