Didier Drogba, a former Chelsea striker, has expressed concern about the prevalence of fake agents in Africa who deceive football players with false promises of success and wealth.
In collaboration with his foundation, Drogba has partnered with FIFPRO (the global football players union) and the International Labour Organisation to increase awareness about the dangers associated with these individuals.
“Please, I need you to hear this,” former Ivory Coastinternational Drogba says in an animated campaign video to players. “Be very careful who you trust. Never trust the person who wants your money.”
A recent survey conducted by FIFPRO involved 263 players from seven African nations. The survey revealed that over 70% of these players were contacted without their consent by individuals who claimed to assist them in changing clubs. The majority of these players were offered either a trial opportunity (43%) or a contract with a club (39%). However, 56% of the players did not receive the promised trial, and 44% did not sign the expected contract.
“FIFPRO has heard many stories about players being approached by people pretending to be agents that promise to arrange a trial or a contract with a new club,” FIFPRO said in a release.
“The reality is less glamorous… In some of the worst cases players find themselves stranded abroad without money to return home.”
According to Drogba, young players, in particular, are in danger when they are too eager to find an agent.
“Your best agent is not the guy you may trust, the best agent you can have is your performances,” Drogba said on a video call this week with reporters. “This never lies. So the more you perform, the more clubs are coming to watch you play.”
“What I see is a lot of kids looking for an agent to find me a club. That’s not how it works. It’s the performance that gets the attention of the clubs and good agents.”
Starting from October 1, 2023, all football agents are required to possess a FIFA license as per the new regulations introduced by FIFA. This license can only be obtained by successfully passing an examination. To support this initiative, a campaign has been launched which includes a pamphlet designed for players. The pamphlet offers practical guidance on various aspects such as recognizing fraudulent agents, understanding important elements in contracts, and informing players about their rights as foreign employees.
“Some of our friends paid their entire family savings, everything they had, but they never played abroad,” Drogba says in his animated video. “Instead, they were left stranded at an airport, or in a shabby space, under a stadium with 20 others, or living under a bridge or even thrown in jail in Asia.”
“And I’m not talking about one player. But thousands just like you, with the same hopes and dreams who have been cheated and left with nothing… I don’t want you to be the next.”