Mission 89 to co-host Brussels #notinourgame event: “Time for Europe to stand against child trafficking in sport”



High-level Panel Session Hosted by the European Parliament Intergroup on Sport, Mission 89, and the Amersi Foundation

Tuesday 16th October 2018, 18h30 – 20h30

(Read more here)

Every year, hundreds of thousands of children are smuggled across borders and sold as commodities, including promising young athletes who are trafficked by sham agents promising fame, riches, and an escape route from a cycle of poverty.

To mark the 11th EU Anti-trafficking Day (October 18), the European Parliament Intergroup on Sport, Mission 89, and the Amersi Foundation will bring together European policy makers and key stakeholders to address child trafficking in sport.


The Baroness Young of Hornsey, OBE
Mohamed Amersi, The Amersi Foundation
Bogdan Wenta, Member of European Parliament
Dr. Serhat Yilmaz, Professor of Sports Law, Loughborough University
Brett Clothier, IAAF, Head of Athletics Integrity Unit
Roberto Branco Martins, Sec. Gen, European Football Agents Association
Bulent Tansel, Criminal Intelligence Officer, Interpol
Chris Eaton, Consultant, Law Enforcement
Paolo Bertaccini, Advisor to the ITA Government on Sport Integrity
Mathieu Moreuil, Director of International Football Relations and EU Affairs
James Johnson, Head of Professional Football FIFA
Benjamin Smith, FPRW Technical Specialist on Child Labour (ILO)
Yatta Dakowah, Representative, Chief of the UNODC Liaison Office
John Dorber, Council of Europe, Adviser on Sport and migration to EPAS

With only broad estimates of how many youth, particularly of African and South American origin, leave their country of birth to pursue an often-false rainbow, it is difficult to determine the true extent of trafficking in sport. Civil Society and Political Institutions are showing increasing concern on this issue and have subsequently passed policy resolutions and recommendations that address the phenomenon.

Young footballers are the most affected. The International Olympic Committee’s Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance of the Olympic and Sports Movement prohibits exploitation of young athletes and explicitly states that for the protection of athletes:

• Measures should be taken to prohibit exploitation of young athletes
• Athletes should be protected from unscrupulous recruiters and agents
• Cooperation with the government of the countries concerned should be developed
• Codes of conduct should be signed by all sport organisations

FIFA on the other hand has taken steps to limit the exploitation of young footballers, primarily through its Transfer Matching System (TMS) and the enforcement of regulations prohibiting the international transfer of minors.However, sport governing bodies and authorities can only regulate activities within the scope of organized competition. Other active international organisations, NGOs, and charities dedicated to assisting and protecting vulnerable youths are faced with the complexity of the issue of child trafficking – issues of jurisdiction and resources, enforcement of existing resolutions and regulations and an absence of a coordinated effort to implement recommendations.

A root cause analysis carried out by Mission 89 cited the ineffectiveness of measures taken so far to include a lack of coordination between key actors, inadequate resources to implement and enforce policies and a lack of prioritisation of the issue by governments and national sport federations.

Against this background and to mark this year’s EU Anti-trafficking Day, this event aims to bring together European policy makers and key stakeholders to set the foundation for a multisectoral dialogue and approach to addressing child trafficking in sport. EU policy makers and development aid can play a key role in affecting meaningful change on this issue, leading awareness and advocacy and making a statement of no tolerance on trafficking in sports.