It’s estimated that more than 15,000 children are trafficked into Europe every year with false hopes of making it as professional footballers. In the UK alone, there are more than 2,000 minors who have been trafficked to apparently play football, though the true figure is likely to be even higher.

Fraudulent individuals posing as football agents target young foreign players and lure them abroad with false promises of trials at top European football clubs. These young boys leave behind their friends and families and spend large amounts of money on visas, passports and airfares to chase their dreams.

In reality, there is often no club waiting for the player abroad and they are either abandoned on arrival or subjected to slavery, prostitution, and drug dealing – some even end up as victims of sexual exploitation.

This is human trafficking, but it isn’t the only way trafficking happens in football. A more “legitimate” way it occurs is when an agent signs a player to a club but controls the player’s mobility, and makes money from an exploitative contract. The contracts are binding and difficult to escape from, as they divert large proportions of a player’s earnings to the agent.

Click here for the rest of the story.