Abuse, discrimination, corruption, people-trafficking, violence, threats, racism and the deaths of people like Diego Mendieta and Bruno Zandonadi.
What am I talking about? A Central-American dictatorship or drug war?
Actually no. I am talking about professional football.
I’ll start with a quote…
There is a myth that needs to be shattered in football and it is incredibly important [that people] understand this – if you go behind the scenes and you dig in to the stories that underlie the hypocrisy of FIFA, the power grab of FIFA, yes it may outrage you that Sepp Blatter has an unopposed election. All those things are indeed compelling and they are all very interesting but behind that there is a reality, and the reality is that there is a human cost to the monopolisation of football by 24 men and women with no accountability and no oversight, and this system has VICTIMS, it has a BODY COUNT, it has people who are threatened, people who are beaten up, people who are abused [and] people who are trafficked like modern slaves. All of this is the reality of modern day football and it is glossed over when you look at the English Premier League or the leading leagues. It is very disturbing to people who know what the reality is.
I obviously think it is fair when people become angry at spoilt, overpaid players and corrupt officials. However, that is not the majority of the game and supposing everyone involved in the game is in the same happy, rich or fat-cat position is akin to thinking sweatshop workers are in the same position as the avaricious executives in the higher parts of companies.
There is a dark underbelly to what goes on in football. This recent podcast by Beyond The Pitch featuring David Larkin of Change FIFA should give you an entry into some of the goings on, and that is where the above quote is taken from. They suggest you download and read this document called the Black Book from FIFPro the players union about some of the horrible things that go on and I’d suggest it to you also, particularly, as he says in the podcast, the facts and findings part which starts on page 12 of the link I provided.
It is also important to note that although this document refers to Eastern Europe these findings are by no means unique to there, nor are they the worst things that have been going on.