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Copyright (c) 2015 Sports Lawyers Journal
Sports Lawyers Journal

ARTICLE: "The Lost Boys": FIFA's Insufficient Efforts To Stop Trafficking of Youth Footballers

Spring, 2015

Sports Lawyers Journal

22 Sports Law. J. 151


Alex C. Najarian*


I. Introduction
In St. Denis, one of the toughest suburbs in Paris, sits Simone, eighteen, an illegal Cameroonian immigrant. Simone arrived in Paris in 2008 on a thirty-day visa with the dream of playing professional football. 1 Under the impression that he would be playing for Paris Saint-Germain, he left his family, who expected him to rise to international stardom. 2 When the club did not offer Simone a contract after a tryout, he was too ashamed to return to his family. He stayed in Paris as an illegal and lives in a slum full of drug addicts and tries to survive by selling fruit on the street. 3

Effa Steve, a sixteen-year-old midfielder from Equatorial Guinea, also arrived in France in 2008 on the promise of a tryout with a first-tier football club. 4 In his home country, an agent from Bulgaria arranged his visa and flight. Like many African families in the same situation, Effa's family sold their house to finance their son's trip. However, Effa "was dropped ... immediately after [he] suffered a knee injury" during his tryout. "My life now is about avoiding arrest and finding somewhere to stay at night," says Effa. 5

Tragically, in recent years, there have been thousands of stories similar to Simone and Effa's. With dreams of following in the footsteps of successful immigrant footballers such as Didier Drogba and Michael Essien, 6 children all over Africa eagerly await an opportunity to begin a professional career. Agents, eager to ...
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