Adegeye, a former professional Nigerian footballer, leads members of the Freedom Foundation Apostolic Revival International Ministries (FARIM) soccer team through stretching exercises at the Government Technical College in February 2014 in Ikorodu, Nigeria.
Adegeye, a former professional Nigerian soccer player, leads members of the Freedom Foundation Apostolic Revival International Ministries (FARIM) soccer team through stretching exercises at the Government Technical College in February 2014 in Ikorodu, Nigeria.Jason Andrew
Adegeye, a former professional Nigerian footballer, leads members of the Freedom Foundation Apostolic Revival International Ministries (FARIM) soccer team through stretching exercises at the Government Technical College in February 2014 in Ikorodu, Nigeria.
Akeem, a young footballer from Lagos, Nigeria, stretches his calves out during an evening pick-up game on the run-down Feriköy pitch in May 2011 in the Kurtulus neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey.
Sodiq and Adegeye, two Nigerian footballers living in Istanbul, stretch during an early evening practice on the rundown Feriköy pitch in April 2011 in the Kurtulus neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey.
Sodiq, Adegeye and Akeem sit in the bed that they used to share with three other footballers in the small studio apartment that they lived in April 2011 in the Kurtulus neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey.
A group of African men crowd the basement of an internet cafe to watch the Chelsea vs. Tottenham football match after paying the shop keeper .50 cents on April 30, 2011 in the Kurtulus neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey.
Nigerian footballers playing for Tanzania stretch their legs out before their Africa Community Cup match against Ivory Coast on the run-down Feriköy pitch in Kurtulus on July 29, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Guinea and Uganda play against each other in the semi-final match of the Africa Community Cup that's held every year on the run-down Feriköy pitch in the Kurtulus neighborhood on August 4, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.
An African footballer sits inside the run-down Feriköy pitch prior to his match during the Africa Community Cup on July 29, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Jerry, a Nigerian footballer, lays in the sea at a beach near his home after spending the afternoon training in August 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Akeem, A Nigerian footballer, prepares Banku; a Ghanian staple dish that's traditionally served with stew, on the floor of the apartment that he shares with seven other Nigerians inside the three room apartment located in the basement of a building in March 2013 in the Sisli neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey.
Dayo, A Nigerian footballer living in Turkey, sit’s for a portrait inside the second floor of the run-down Feriköy Pitch in Istanbul where he trains 5-days a week in April 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.
A preacher working for The Mountain and Fire Ministries says a sermon during a 6-hour church service on Easter Sunday on March 31, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.
An African footballer practices for the African Friendship Sports team, works with the ball during morning football practice at the Fatih Belediyesi Mimar Sinan Stadium in April 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Nigerian footballers practice a football drill on the run-down Feriköy pitch in Kurtulus in April 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Peter, a footballer with two children and a wife, holds onto the goal post during an afternoon practice at the Government Technical College in February 2014 in Ikorodu, Nigeria.
Adegeye, a former professional Nigerian footballer, leads members of the Freedom Foundation Apostolic Revival International Ministries (FARIM) soccer team through football exercises at the Government Technical College in February 2014 in Ikorodu, Nigeria.
Adegeye, a former professional Nigerian footballer, lays against the wall of his small apartment after dislocating his shoulder during a friendly match at the Akure Township Stadium where he used to play professional football with the Sunshine Stars years earlier in February 2014 in Akure, Nigeria.
The living room in Adegeye's apartment, which he shares with his wife and daughter, is covered with photographs of him during his time living in Turkey along with old photographs of when he used to play professional football in Nigeria in February 2014 in Akure, Nigeria.
Two Nigerian footballers stretch during a morning workout for SIBM LTDA, a training program run by Sevgi Adar, a Cameroonian agent based in Turkey in January 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Nigerian footballers stretch before a morning workout for SIBM LTDA, a training program run by Sevgi Adar, a Cameroonian agent based in Turkey in January 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Akeem and Dayo, two young footballers from Nigeria, share a laugh as they speak to Akeem's brother on Skype one afternoon in their small apartment that they share in January 2014 in the Kurtulus neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey.
Dayo, 19, a footballer from Nigeria, sits on his computer inside the bedroom that he shares with another player on January 15, 2014 in the Kurtulus neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey.
Adegeye, a former professional Nigerian soccer player, leads members of the Freedom Foundation Apostolic Revival Interna
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Jason Andrew
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Nowhere to Go: Chronicling Soccer's Human Trafficking Problem

Jul 10, 2014

Every four years, the World Cup draws unparalleled attention to soccer and its stars — the "beautiful game" played on its grandest stage for all to see. Far less attention is minded to those whose passion for the game has led to their exploitation.

In his series of photographs "Black Diamonds," Jason Andrew chronicles the human trafficking of African soccer players from Nigeria to Istanbul by an assortment of scouts and unlicensed agents. These young athletes, largely under-informed and uneducated, are promised the opportunity to realize their dreams of becoming soccer stars — if their impoverished families are willing to pay fees that can exceed $5,000 to send them to Turkey. But instead of using their time in Turkey to kickstart successful soccer careers in top-tier European leagues, the players are typically abandoned shortly after their arrival and forced to fend for themselves in a harsh and unforgiving land.

Since 2011, Andrew has followed the journeys of these young men, many of whom end up destitute and desperate for whatever work they are able to find. Some have returned home to West Africa, more have remained in Turkey, sharing apartments and jobs with others lured north under false pretenses, but very few have found even a fraction of the glory and riches once promised.

The problem is a growing one. Jean Claude Mbvoumin of the Foot Solidaire group, a charity whose goal is to protect young African soccer players, estimated that as many as 15,000 soccer-playing African youths were emigrating under what can only be described as the falsest of pretenses, and that number shows no sign of shrinking. Nearly every day more of these young players arrive in Turkey, just as their predecessors' visas expire.

"Black Diamonds" highlights a few of these exploited players, tracking their attempts to fulfill the dreams that had once been promised them — the same dreams that others have been living at this summer's World Cup. For these exploited soccer players, however, the path forward is far less certain.

All photographs by Jason Andrew.

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