Hundreds of African and South-American minors come to Europe each year searching for a better life and professional success in the El Dorado of European football leagues. In doing so they expose themselves to multimillionaire cross-national structures of power and quick profits.

For a while now there has been talk about young people from Africa and Latin America, arriving in Europe with the dream of becoming professional football players. But who are these people? What stories do they have to tell? What motivates them?

Hiring of minors is forbidden by FIFA, but there is nothing in Immigration Law to prevent this. So it is up to the national federations to deal with these cases, an issue that has only begun to be discussed seriously the past two years. A cross-border team of journalists analysed data from the first leagues of England, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and Belgium and found that, during the years 2014-2015, 294 African and South American players aged 18 or less played there, 226 of which African, 68 South American. More than half of them came from Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, Senegal, Cameroon or Ivory Coast. Portugal is their main gateway to Europe: the country received 109 of these aspiring young footballers, mostly from the former Portuguese colonies: Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, Cape Verde and Angola.

By zooming in on the particular cases of three young men (Francisco, 23; Cassiano, 15; Valentine, 19) Game On wants to give a face and voice to a phenomenon often treated superficially.

Project website: futebol.divergente.pt/en

This project won in 2016 the AMI Journalism against Indifference Prize and the High Commission for Migration's Communication Award.

Team members

Sofia da Palma Rodrigues

Sofia da Palma Rodrigues is an award-winning freelance journalist living in Portugal.

Sofia da Palma Rodrigues

Paulo Nuno Vicente

Paulo Nuno Vicente is a non-fiction multimedia storyteller (Portugal).

Emma Lesuis

Emma Lesuis is a freelance documentary maker who is based in Amsterdam and works both in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Emma Lesuis
Grant of €5.000, allocated on 15t/12/2014


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