Saturday, May 22, 2010

The lives of Africans in the World Cup

Excellent piece on the other side of the World Cup here. The article could be called, "How Europe underdevelops African football." It doesn't seem like the World Cup is going to help transform the beautiful game in South Africa, let alone anywhere else on the continent. The stadiums will be turned over to the white sports of rugby and cricket after the tourists have gone. The shady network of European talent scouts picking up young African players is barely a rung above human trafficking,

"But there is another side to this system that will not be on display in South Africa. The vast majority of African players do not end up as superstars at Chelsea or Barcelona. They arrive in far-flung corners of Europe and then move around, traded for small sums by cash-strapped clubs looking for value. They are what Alegi, in African Soccerscapes, calls the lumpenproletariat of professional football, with few rights, fewer privileges and no security. Many arrive very young (in 2003 the average age of African imports to European leagues was 19, compared with 24.5 for imports from elsewhere in Europe) and wind up in deeply unfamiliar places where racism is still rife and the climate is often uncongenial. African footballers now make up the majority of professionals in Romania, and more than a third in countries such as Switzerland and Ukraine. In 2006, over a fifth of all transfers between European clubs were of African players. Cheap African labour is the now the staple diet of the lower reaches of the European game."


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