Geography

Research

Virtual Cabinet of Curiosities

30. Deflated football, Dr James Esson

My research looks at how human traffickers posing as football ‘agents’ are exploiting the hopes and aspirations of West African youth who want to better their lives by playing professional football in Europe. In some cases, the player obtains a contract with a club but it is exploitative. In most cases, any alleged interest from a European club is bogus, and the ‘agent’ takes his fee but abandons the player without finding them a club.

Geography is at heart of this issue. How? These ‘agents’ are aware that inequality between regions is a key reason why an increasing number of African youth are desperate to migrate to Europe, and ‘agents’ use this knowledge to manipulate young African would-be footballers.

More about James' research