Former Africa Cup of Nations winning coach Claude LeRoy has said
‘we must fight the slave-merchant agents’
if the continent’s football is to develop.
The 70-year-old Togo coach told BBC Sport he has been battling the problems for more than 20 years.
“In a lot of countries there is no competition for under-17 and under-15 just some small academies where the agents are slave merchants,” he said.
“Their only target is to sell one player to make a little bit of money.”
LeRoy said the issue is having an impact on the development of young players across the continent.
“That’s not the way you can improve in Africa, you have to build a very high-level of competition for young players,” he explained.
“Yes (slave merhants is) a very strong description but the reality is I am fighting against these kind of people for more than 20 years.
“We have to be very strong against this kind of behaviour.”
He added that it is not just young players that suffer at the hands of unscrupulous agents.
“They (agents) are selling a dream to these young players but they are also cheating the parents. the grandparents or the family who sometimes give money to finance a trip overseas for nothing,” he said.
“Players will stay in Africa if there is a good level of competition and good pitches, good balls, good nets, good physios – that’s why we have to fight everyday.”
LeRoy, who led Cameroon to the 1988 Nations Cup title, says things have not improved during his time working in Africa.
“Africa has to think about (the fact that) not one team went into the second round (of the World Cup in Russia),” he added.
“It is necessary to reorganise football in Africa from the quality of the pitch, the quality of the coaches, the educators.
“There has been no progress, there is no improvement in Africa at this level I think it is even worse than 20 years ago.
“Such huge talent but we need young African educators everywhere (especially) in youth leagues.”
The well-travelled coach began his African career in Cameroon, where he has had two stints, and has also been charge of Senegal, DR Congo (twice) as well as Congo-Brazzaville.
He has also coached the national teams of Malaysia, Oman and Syria as well as at clubs in China, France and England.
First Published 24.09.18: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/45624918