Mission 89’s guiding principles include the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) both broadly and specifically that declares that members “shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad”.
In addition, Mission 89 advocates for the enforcement of FIFA’s Article 19 of its Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players that states, in part: International transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18 unless:
The player’s parents move to the country in which the new club is located for reasons not linked to football. The transfer takes place within the territory of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) and the player is aged between 16 and 18.
The player lives no further than 50km from a national border and the club with which the player wishes to be registered in the neighbouring association is also within 50km of that border. Clubs that operate an academy with legal, financial or de facto links to the club are obliged to report all minors who attend the academy to the association upon whose territory the academy operates.
Each association is obliged to ensure that all academies without legal, financial or de facto links to a club run a club that participates in the relevant national championships; all players shall be reported to the association upon whose territory the academy operates, or registered with the club itself; or b) report all minors who attend the academy for the purpose of training to the association upon whose territory the academy operates.
Each association shall keep a register comprising the names and dates of birth of the minors who have been reported to it by the clubs or academies. Through the act of reporting, academies and players undertake to practise football in accordance with the FIFA Statutes, and to respect and promote the ethical principles of organised football.
WHAT WE DO
Mission 89’s aim is to mitigate child trafficking in sports through research, education, and the implementation of mandatory regulations to keep sports training academies accountable for the safety and well-being of children in their care.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of children are smuggled across borders and sold as commodities, including promising young footballers who are trafficked by sham agents making false promises of fame, riches, and an escape route from a cycle of poverty.
There are only broad estimates of how many young children leave their countries of birth to pursue an often-false rainbow – especially children and teenagers from African and South American nations. It is difficult to determine the true extent of the problem.
Mission 89’s research into the issue will provide a detailed examination of the issue as it exists today, develop educational and vocational programs at grassroots level to empower those most vulnerable to exploitation, and establish a licensing and accreditation system to recognize legitimate institutions from sham organizations exploiting young athletes.
Mission 89’s research provides evidence-based data to influence policy and decision makers in the area of child trafficking. Our authoritative research allows Mission 89 to work with a credible network of advocates and influence policy development and funding for programs that address the issue of trafficking.
All children deserve a quality education – especially in communities where poverty is often a defining factor in a child’s future. Often, great athletic talent means a child is less likely to complete his or her formal education. Through Mission 89’s education interventions, such as funding school placements, community-based reading, writing and math programs, young athletes have a better chance for success on and off the field.
With the implementation of mandatory regulations – especially across Africa – youth athletes can be protected from exploitation while training institutions and professional sports organizations can engage with legitimate sports academies. Continent-wide licensing and regulation of academies will enable aspiring professional athletes to take legitimate pathways towards a career in sport.
Lerina’s long history in sports management and administration includes roles with national and international sport federations in Europe, the Middle East, North America, and the Caribbean. She holds an M.A. Sport Administration from the AISTS in Lausanne, Switzerland and B.A. International Studies & Economics from the University of Miami, Florida.
Yann is CEO of e-You, a 360° sports marketing, policy, and development organization, based in Hangzhou, China. He also works with Football for Peace Global and Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation in Kenya. He is former Managing Director of Monaco-based Peace and Sport and launched YSEO Consulting to address public policy and sustainable development in sport.