the great vulnerability of footballers to extortion or blackmail attempts

How do you explain this incredible Paul Pogba deal? He is the subject of a judicial investigation against X for “extortion with a weapon in an organized gang” and “kidnapping and forcible confinement”. Five people were taken into police custody, franceinfo learned on Wednesday, September 14, including Mathias Pogba, the brother of the France international.

>> Case Paul Pogba: what we know about the men in police custody

Among the players, the least we can say is that the subject is taboo. When the French players are asked about the reality of the attempts of blackmail, fraud, destabilization to which some are subjected, they all say that it is a real subject in the world of professional football, but discretion, family ties, fear , shame too, block. speech “Among professionals, it is very often that we talk about problems related to money”says this former Paris Saint-Germain, of Ivorian origin, from the microphone.

According to him, this particularly affects young players of African and North African origin when it comes to entourage or family. But in the end, all social and ethnic categories can be affected with the attempts of crooked agents, intermediaries or purgators. When it is not the players themselves who import the mafia methods.

For franceinfo, an intermediary agent puts the cards on the table. He left France to work in the English championship. “Too many problems. Too many threats”Explains the agent, as with this disgruntled player: “A player who had not been kept at a professional club came to my house when I was in Paris, around 11 o’clock in the evening, he said to me: “Can you come down? I want to talk”. I had never had a problem with this player who I had known for years and in fact I got out. There were four men who also got out of the car. They had hats, etc. They were jogging with gloves, and they surrounded me .. There is one who said: “Because of you, my brother does not have a club. So now you have to pay, you have to pay back or we will blow everything up in your house.”

“These are young people who often come from very disadvantaged backgrounds. As soon as one of them succeeds, all these friends want to take advantage and go live with him. Obviously, there is always the brother or father who wants. position as an agent. Football players are the most defrauded by those close to them.”

A footballer’s agent

at franceinfo

The entourage, the family environment, these are precisely the cogs of the Pogba deal. What you have to understand is that the Pogba deal is only the tip of a solid gold iceberg. An example with a figure: in 2021, according to FIFA, the amount of transfers of French players was around 560 million euros. This is the record for nationality in the football world. An obviously underestimated figure that does not take into account the tailor-made remuneration for some players at the big clubs. And we’re not talking about image rights. This huge pie is the nerve of all these attempts to put pressure on the players, some of which, very few in the end, end up in criminal proceedings.

Christophe Hutteau is an agent approved by the Federation. When contracts are signed, the family can play a dangerous role. “One day, a father called me and explained that his son was a French international in the youth player categories and that vsit would be an honor to work with me. We discuss, and after the end of the discussion, he says to me: “Well, how about us?” I tell him: “We’ll do what you want, we’ll see each other where you want, when you want.” Dad answers: “No, you don’t understand. There is an agent, two minutes ago on the phone, he offered to offer a car to my wife.”

“The influence of the family is too often destructive, but not only in the family, it is also in the first circle of friends, of the people with whom they grew up.”

Christophe Hutteau, football agent

at franceinfo

Faced with these pressures, the players turn first of all to their agent, but also to the lawyers. Arnaud Péricard defends and advises the big names of sport and football in particular. The football community can be very regulated, explains the lawyer, his company is often asked about this type of business. “We tried scams, we have a sextape blackmail. We have cases in discos of some athletes who are pushed with proven battles, business or investments that are sometimes misdirected, they ask for protection in exchange for a form of compensation.”

“Most of the time, there is a form of modesty or sometimes shame. The first temptation of the client will be to want to solve it for himself.”

Arnaud Pericard, lawyer

at franceinfo

“We tell them that, on the contrary, these are cases that are already serious enough to justify, if necessary, the presentation of a criminal complaint, perhaps the request for police protection. The golden rule, in in any case, what we try to impose on our customers, is to never accept requests for blackmail or extortion.”explains the lawyer.

Impossible to know the exact number of complaints submitted by French footballers. Lawyers aren’t the only ones advising players. The training centers of the clubs, the Hope centers of the Federation through the Fondaction du Football or the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) sensitize young people to the risks (of social networks in particular) before they his career takes off and the money becomes. , for some, a source of problems.

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