INVESTIGATIVE sports journalist David Goldblatt delivered a powerful message on sport’s role in reducing human trafficking at the Play the Game conference. “Everyone has to play their small part,” he said, adding that it was not possible to “just wave a magic wand from the top” writes Adam Manning.
Goldblatt believes that active contributions from the police and sports authorities, together with education for the victims themselves is the only way to reduce the 1.2 million human trafficking victims around the world.
Human trafficking in football has been widely reported recently. However, Goldblatt believes sports can recruit ethically from less developed countries by using official, local academies. He points to his study of US baseball, where 40% of the players are from the Dominican Republic.
“All but one of 30 Major League baseball teams has an academy on the island, who take in anywhere between 20 to 70 kids every year, and those who make it through the two year programme get a shot at the minor leagues in the States”.
But baseball’s widespread presence in the Dominican Republic comes at a cost: US teams invest around $75million, about $2.5million per club in the country according to Dominican Baseball.
With revenues in Football’s Premier League soaring by 26%, English clubs have the resources to establish a similar structure of youth development in Eastern Europe – and that could make football-centred trafficking from these countries a thing of the past.