Dangerous moments! … Fake football agents on the prowl

Ghanaian players must be wary of fake football agents

Ghanaian players must be wary of fake football agents

In moments of desperation, a drowning man will even try to clutch on a matches box.   That is what a state of near hopelessness and forlornness can do!

The aforementioned portrayal is analogous to the current crisis in the nation’s local football as some players are seriously contemplating leaving the shores of Ghana for greener pastures – to anywhere in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Indeed, Ghana football has not seen any competitive activity since June 4, 2018, when the opening round of the local premier league officially ended. The second stanza was supposed to have started early last month after the one-month hiatus.

However, that arrangement was fatally stabbed as investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ piece on corruption in Ghana football unveiled heart-throbbing scandals in the game.

Titled “Number 12: When Misconduct and Greed Become the Norm,” the near two-hour video laid bare perceived deep-seated greed and corruption in the local game where more than 100 match officials and top members of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), were captured allegedly collecting bribes.  The nation was horrified!

Apparently bewildered by the video, the government has begun a process in court to liquidate the GFA, describing the football body as “an obscene emblem of scandal, corruption and illegal enterprise.” Expectedly, the FA fired back rejecting that representation.

As a result, lawyers for the beleaguered FA led by Thaddeus Sory, in a written response, say the petition by the Attorney General (AG) Madam Gloria Akuffo, is without merit – and that request for liquidation should not be entertained. In the 16-page response, Sory argues that there is no public interest at stake that requires the intervention of the AG to protect it.

In view of the snafu situation the nation’s football finds itself, some players – from the first and premier divisions – are mulling over the decision to leaving the country for ‘survival’ – even though they do not have the requisite documents like the International Transfer Certificate (ITC) to sign any potentially successful contract.

Fact is that the FA premises have been declared as a crime zone, with the offices closed down for the past month now with staff of the association, who is supposed to issue the ITC – still at home.

It has been hinted that a decent number of  fake ‘FIFA football agents’ are cashing in on the situation, contacting these desperate players on the internet, promising to get them clubs in abroad, at a fee.

A premier league player, who pleaded to go anonymous, told this writer that his manager has paid $3,500 to a supposed agent in Italy who promised to get him a club by the end of July, this year. When contacted yesterday, he said they could not trace the ‘agent’ again.

“His phones are off and there seems to be no trace of him anymore,” the lanky, full-house defender lamented.

According to him, he is the bread winner of his family “and with the league in crisis, I was desperate to join the bandwagon.”

“You see, I need to put food on the table for my family; you can’t blame me,” said the defender who revealed that most of his colleagues were anxious to leave.

But truth is that local footballers seeking to travel outside the country to practice their trade are being swindled – almost on daily basis.

Most of these budding stars were looking to make it to Europe, Middle-East, Asia and the Americas for greener pastures only to end up in the icy hands of these charlatans masquerading as accredited FIFA football agents.

According to Times Sports investigations, a good number of Ghanaian footballers have often fallen prey to the scams of these agents – and many others could be joining the bandwagon.

These unsuspecting players pay between $2,000 and $5,000 to these fake agents who promise getting trials for them after which they would be signed on.

Sadly, most often than not, these fees are paid by the player’s manager after being hoodwinked into believing that they are dealing with credible FIFA-licensed agents.

Some of these fake agents are also said to steal identities through fake profiles on social media sites, trying to swindle unwitting players out of money for non-existent trials. For a significant number of agents, there are no phone and email contact details listed. This allows criminal gangs to use this absence of contact information to create false identities on social media that are markedly similar to legitimate agents.

Once a fake identity is created, the scammers use social media to contact players about potential trials, usually in Europe. If the players respond, the scammers use mocked-up headed paper from well-known clubs to offer a trial. Once the players are taken in, the scammers request a fee of around $500 to cover ‘insurance’ and other ‘relevant’ documents.

If this is paid, the scammers then vanish into thin air.

Clearly, these are dangerous moments and our players and their managers ought to be on the qui vive and avoid slipping into this nadir of fraudulence and trickery as they contemplate getting clubs abroad.

Chairman of the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA), Kudjo Fianoo, also asserts that the times are dangerous “and one has to be on red alert.”

“We appreciate that these are hard times for our players and football administrators. But they need to exercise restraint and vigilance as we make efforts at addressing the situation and bringing back football to Ghanaians,” he said.

BY JOHN VIGAH

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