Human trafficking is a worldwide problem that has escalated in recent years. Millions of people are trapped in some form of modern-day slavery after ending up in the hands of traffickers every year. Many governments and supranational bodies are now considering human trafficking as a problem that needs to be prioritized. Despite being a global issue, Africa remains the top source continent for human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants. According to the Global Slavery Index, over 6 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are enslaved, accounting for approximately 13.6 percent of the world’s total enslaved population as of 2016. Europe, particularly European Union member-states, often become destination countries for victims of human trafficking in sport.

The EU Anti-Trafficking Day was established by the European Commission in 2007 and is marked on 18 October yearly. It is an occasion to raise awareness on trafficking in human beings and improve the exchange of information, knowledge and best practices among the different actors working in this field. In April 2021, the European Commission adopted a new EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings (2021-2025).  This strategy is aimed towards providing a comprehensive response to human trafficking – preventing the crime, protecting and empowering victims and bringing traffickers to justice.

The subject of human trafficking and awareness around it has dominated common areas such as migration and general human rights. However, there is a significant gap around sports, specifically football where there has been evidence of the trafficking of minors from the Global South, particularly from West Africa into various EU member states. Concern regarding human trafficking and irregular migration within the football industry was first highlighted in a 1999 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report. The report concluded by highlighting the danger of effectively creating a modern-day slave trade in young African footballers. A decade later, the European Commission’s Study on Sport (ECS) made a similar argument, which claimed that the increasing numbers of young West African males were taking covert journeys to Europe under the false pretense of a contract or trial with a professional football club.

At Mission 89, our aim is to prevent the trafficking of minors in sport.  We do this through research, education and advocacy for policies and regulations that safeguard children from exploitation. Raising awareness of this issue is vital to our understanding of the ways in which young athletes are trafficked around the world in pursuit of careers in sports. Addressing and reducing vulnerabilities of athletes in the sports industry is also key. Advocacy for protection policies is crucial as there is no internationally accepted definition of ‘sports trafficking victim’, no clear procedures for identifying them, nor operational guidelines for their protection and assistance.

Promoting understanding of human trafficking into sport at all levels will enhance the credibility of organised sport and help consolidate the framework necessary for sports to deliver benefits such as health, equality, inclusion and education. Through this, sport can become an enabler in achieving internationally-recognised Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Trafficking in human beings is a serious and complex crime. To raise awareness, Mission 89 has produced a series of interviews with survivors and key stakeholders in the industry over the past two years. Survivors are key actors in the fight against human trafficking. They play a crucial role in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identifying and rescuing victims and supporting them on their road to rehabilitation. Engage on our Website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and let’s continue to raise awareness on this menace.

The EU anti trafficking day is of great importance for Mission 89 and its initiatives. Join Mission us in commemorating the EU anti trafficking day on 18th October 2021. A ceremony with leading personalities of the Council of Europe will be held outside the Palais de l’Europe from 12h30 – 13h15. Testimonies of persons who have been victims of trafficking or whose rights to decent work have been denied will be presented.

The ceremony will be followed by a webinar that will explore the issue of decent work – articles 1, 2, 3, 4 and 26 of the revised European Social Charter related to: the formality of work; usefulness of work and impact on the environment, respect for the rights and dignity of all persons.

 The webinar will be livestreamed – watch it here


Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy