October 21, 2020

Sex slaves in football

Of the eight there were, the one who was a minor returned to his country and four are sheltered by Nuevo Hogar Betania. An organization specialized in human trafficking, which is now trying to collect the wickers of that castle of chopsticks, scattered and many broken, to try to rebuild an emotional structure devastated by its captors. How do you regain your illusion for football after being a sex slave?

They count on the help of some clubs in this process: a modest Andalusian team has offered to allow these kids to do the preseason with them and the foundations of Barça, Athletic and Betis have also opened the doors to help them out. what they can: sending them sports equipment and, when the coronavirus allows more mobility, undertake other initiatives that allow them to see the most beautiful face of this sport after having suffered the most bloody.

“We want to give them emotional support, with concrete actions, to inspire them after the traumatic situation they have experienced,” explains the head of programs at the Barça Foundation, Mariona Miret. “And we also want to help give visibility and raise awareness about this reality and alert the entire sector to a little-known reality.”

Work out the trauma

“We are about to sign the agreement with clubs and we are very happy because they have been involved with rigor and positive measures and we trust that this will serve to embark on the path of normalization”, says Begoña Arana. A path that, as the director of Nuevo Hogar Betania recognizes, will be long and complex. “They have gone through a highly traumatic experience and the work generated will not be immediate. Not everyone takes it the same and each one needs their rhythm to elaborate the trauma of the situations they have lived, the emotional damage suffered, to see how their dreams are they dismount and how it affects them and their families. ”

One of the boys had become an under-21 international with his country and, although the investigation is still under summary secrecy, there is a suspicion that some members of the players’ former clubs would have participated directly or indirectly in the recruitment to sign for a fictitious team that was to serve as a springboard to reach the First Division.

The reality they encountered upon arrival was totally different: from the airport they went straight to a flat in Prado del Rey, a small town in Cadiz. Crammed into that unsanitary dwelling, where food was locked up and they had to beg to eat. They took away the documentation and money that they had taken as soon as they arrived, and in order to live they had to have sex with men. They were forced to meet clients from the province of Cádiz who they knew on the internet, appointments to which one of the members of the plot took them. They trained on the roof of the building during the day and were prostituted at night. Some did so for about nine months, another less, but as Arana relates, all of them collapsed psychologically sooner or later due to threats not only against their physical integrity and that of their families, but also that their captors counted in their countries than those who They had gone to Spain to succeed in soccer and were engaged in male prostitution.

Their families, unaware of what happened, had to continue to pay the captors the costs of the trip and the stay (for example, for the study visa, which is free, they were charged 1,000 euros) with the promise that they would recover the investment when your child signs the first professional contract. Being in most cases households without resources, they had to resort to moneylenders, with a debt that was growing daily (in some cases up to 60,000 euros), and risking beatings like those that the kids also received in the hovel where they were living badly. The news that a moneylender killed the older brother of some footballers by not collecting a debt was a blow to all the captives.

One of them found the Civil Guard in the rural area on June 9 and the plot exploded: the agents released the rest of the young people in the ‘Operation Promises’ and detained three people for trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation. “We don’t know how long the plot was open and how far the ties have been cut. But I’m sure there are many more cases,” says Arana.

Repeating pattern

Without going any further, on Friday of last week there was another police intervention after a court in the province of Seville was interposed for a case of false recruitment to play in a soccer team of four young people from Colombia and Argentina. A supposed international representation agency, which claimed to be registered in the Spanish federation although it was false, promised the players gold and the Moor and that they would sign for professional Spanish clubs with his hand.

Leaving the football element aside, the case of the young soccer players hosted by Nuevo Hogar Betania is very similar to what they have seen in the NGO since it was founded in 2011 to help victims of human trafficking: recruitment at source , especially in poor families with few studies, deception, extortion and exploitation at destination.


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