Former Premier League footballer ‘was trafficked for sex’

A former footballer who was brought to the UK as a child and forced into male prostitution, is now working with the Premier League to raise awareness of the growing number of teenage players being tricked into leaving Africa for Europe.

Al Bangura, 27, who played in the Premier League for Watford, was 14 when his parents told him to become the leader of the secret society his late father had headed in Sierra Leone. He refused.

“I said I didn’t think this was something I wanted to get involved with. I want to play football and I’m going to school so I don’t want to do that,” he says.

So he travelled to neighbouring Guinea where he met a French man, who pretended to be his friend and promised to help him fulfil his dream.

“I didn’t know he had another different intention – to get me into the sex trade,” Bangura explains.

The pair travelled to France and on to the UK. Once there, the man left him alone in a building.

“All of a sudden I saw two or three guys come around me, trying to rape me and make me do stuff,” he says.

“Because I was young and I was small, I just started screaming. They probably thought I knew what I was there for – obviously I know what I came over here for, I was here to play football.

‘Crying and screaming’

“I was just crying and proper screaming and I tried to make my way out – I was cold, I was crying, I was shaking, I didn’t know what to do, I was all over the place.

“I made my way outside. I didn’t know where to start, I thought it was the end of my life.”

He requested help from a Nigerian man, who told him to go to the Home Office and claim asylum. Because he was 16, he was later given a two-year right to stay.

“It was so emotional, because after a few months I’d kind of forgotten about what what I’d been through, it had been sad but I ended up coming to a good thing.

“I started meeting people, started playing football and I got the opportunity to join Watford when I was 16 and things just started building up for me,” he explains.

“It’s quite emotional to talk about it now, I’m happy I’ve got over it, but it’s sad for me.”

_86773441_gettyimages-73166218

Bangura played for Watford from 2005 to 2009

It is estimated that 15,000 teenage footballers are moved out of 10 West African countries every year – many of them under-age.

The figures come from non-governmental organisation Foot Solidaire, which helps send boys back to Africa after they have been tricked by unscrupulous agents into leaving the continent.

The National Crime Agency says its most recent figures from 2014 show a total of 2,340 potential victims of trafficking were referred from 96 countries – of these 29% were minors.

But Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland said he believed more children were trafficked to the UK than the official figures suggest.

Sports journalist Ed Hawkins has just spent two years investigating the football trade for a book called the Lost Boys.

“It’s difficult to put a number on it, but it’s probably in the thousands each year. People aren’t aware of the scams, how the culture of greed permeates from top to bottom (in football) and encourages the slave trade,” he says.

‘Window dressing’

A Fifa rule called Article 19 says clubs cannot sign people aged under 18, but it has caveats.

“It’s not worth the paper it’s written on, it’s just for window dressing by Fifa, they have given get out clause for clubs to do what they like,” he says.

“There should be a blanket ban on the signing of minors – it shouldn’t be allowed at all, Uefa says this should be in place, with no caveats at all. That would help reduce the numbers.”

Bangura, who also now works with charities to publicise the issue, said: “I think there’s loads of vulnerable kids in Africa who want to achieve what I’ve achieved in my life.

“There’s loads of kids who might not even tell their parents, or their parents might use their last money to make sure they come over here to play football and they end up doing something else.

“It’s important for me, having been through what I’ve been through in my life, for me to say I’ve been through that, I’ve survived, but what about the young kids coming up, will they survive, are they going to be able to cope with that, so we really need to find a way to stop all of that.”

Source BBC

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 15.43.42
Goodbye With Love- Michelle Obama
screen-shot-2016-12-25-at-17-38-52
Kylo Ren Reviews Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (SPOILERS!)
screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-18-45-56
Why all world maps are wrong
164199_550562698299697_29017159_n
Husband Plants a Field of Scented Flowers for His Blind Wife to Smile Every Day
introducing-microsoft-surface-studio-all-in-one-touchscreen-pc
Introducing Microsoft Surface Studio
laferrari-aperta-5-800x333
Sebastian Vettel – LaFerrari Aperta
roadtrips-never-felt-this-good-in-rivays-new-vintage-bmw-short-film-featured-tomboy-tarts-2
There Is Something About Driving
elviraandeunice-lfw2of13
The Truth By Carelle Style
screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-13-50-54
The iPhone: 2007, meet 2017
landscape-1473869610-old-iphone-1
Seeing the original iPhone for the first time
1-f3jxsk4xn4o7nr2vidzqqw
How Berry Gordy Revolutionized Rhythm & Blues
Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 18.43.20
Even Bombs Could Not Stop This Wedding
2BF74FB500000578-3222359-image-a-82_1441369111959
The Rebirth Of Cool Photography- GREG WILLIAMS
509431857_1280x720
GROUP B (TRAILER)
maxresdefault
This Boxing Film Looks Very Good Indeed
http-%2F%2F9network-vod-progressive.akamaized.net%2Fmedia2%2F664969388001%2F2016%2F06%2F664969388001_4999118971001_8117464-20160628-091740-VIDEO-STILL
Seal joins busker for impromptu duet – and its AMAZING!
Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 16.43.13
10 Best Uses of Color of All Time
Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 19.24.13
The Force Is Still Strong With Mark Hamill
Ashley Judd at TEDWomen 2016 - It's About Time,  October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED
How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control | Ashley Judd
Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 14.09.46
Two Actresses At The Peak Of Their Powers.

Follow us on Facebook!