Matthew Edafe is a survivor of trafficking. His compelling story is detailed on Mission 89’s website where he details an experience that no aspiring athlete should endure.
When a man claiming to be a player agent turned up in his town, driving a big car, saying he knew a lot of important people, and saying had taken other young players to Europe, well, it was difficult to ignore what he said.
“He showed some photos he had taken with white people,” explains Edafe, today. “I don’t know how they do that — maybe it’s Photoshop — to show that they had the opportunity to travel.
“They bring a document that says they want to take 30 young players abroad; that for the very first game you play, any game, a trial match or whatever, they will give you $2000. When you sign the contract you will start earning anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.”
The dream turned to a nightmare when Edafe was abandoned with his team mates far from home and far from Europe. Like pretty much every teenager, playing professional soccer seemed a fantastic way to break his family out of a desperate cycle of poverty. The reality was deception, tricks, and fraud.
In October, Edafe addressed the #notinourgame event at the European Parliament in Brussels co-hosted by Mission 89 with the European Parliament’s Sport Intergroup and the Amersi Foundation.
The trafficking survivor described his experience and called on professional footballers – who hold an influential position among aspiring athletes and are role models for millions of fans around the world – to take a leading role in educating young footballers and their families on legitimate pathways to a career in professional sports.
Please watch the video address here: