Portugal: human trafficking in football exposed

Portuguese police have found 80 undocumented migrant youths, mostly from South America and Africa, living in prison-like conditions in a private football training centre. Mário Costa, president of the general assembly of the Portuguese Professional Football League, is now suspected of organising the trafficking of the young people. Commentators are outraged by this form of "promoting talent".

Público (PT) /

A paradise for the unscrupulous

Joaquim Evangelista, President of the Portuguese Professional Football Players’ Union, sees the situation as catastrophic. He writes in Público:

“Portugal is a true players’ camp, a paradise for unscrupulous agents, recruiters, and criminal human trafficking networks. They rely on local clubs with low visibility as a kind of talent laboratory to test the football skills of the young recruits. ... I deeply regret that on such an important issue which involves the right to childhood and respect for human rights, my country remains a mixture of inertia, occasional outrage and a sense of impunity for those who profit from these criminal practices.”

Joaquim Evangelista
Correio da Manhã (PT) /

Scrutinise the whole system

Correio de Manhã asks why no one raised the alarm before:

“One of the league’s leading figures has been implicated in the investigation into the human trafficking network. In this moral mountain of debris, a very strange web of interests and complicity exists, the legality and transparency of which is far from being fully clarified. The clubs, the academies, the sponsors, the social welfare authorities and the ministries, the league and the federation, the community itself, where it is hard to imagine that no one noticed what was going on, should question themselves, examine the control mechanisms and conduct a thorough audit of this system for training footballers.”

Carlos Rodrigues