SURVIVOR

U.K. Footballer Opens Up About Being Trafficked For Sex And Men Trying To Rape Him

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A former Premier League footballer from the U.K. is opening up about the sexual abuses he suffered while pursuing his dream of being a professional athlete.

Al Bangura was born and raised in Sierra Leone. When he was 16, he moved to Guinea. It was there that he met a French man who claimed he could help Bangura become a professional football player in Europe.

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“I didn’t know he had another different intention,” Bangura recently told radio host Victoria Derbyshire in an interview. “To get me into the sex trade.”

Bangura traveled with the man to the U.K. Shortly after arriving, the man brought him to an empty building, where he left him for an hour and a half.

“The guy left me,” he recalled, “all of a sudden I saw two or three guys come around me, trying to rape me and make me do stuff.”

He went on to recount the terrifying incident: “Because I was young and I was small… I was just screaming, shouting, crying… I tried to make my way out. I was cold, I was scared, I was crying, I didn’t know where to start.”

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“I made my way outside,” he continued. “I was thinking this is the end of my life. All I wanted to do was play football.”

After escaping the horrifying scene, a stranger he met on the street helped Bangura apply for asylum in the country. He was given housing and granted a two year stay, but it took him several months to get over the trauma of what happened in that empty building.

“I was so emotional,” he recalled. “After a few months I’d kind of forgotten about what what I’d been through, it was sad for me, but I ended up coming to a good thing.”

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“I started meeting people, started playing football,” he continued, “and I got the opportunity to join Watford when I was 16, and things just started building up for me.”

Bangura, now 27 years old, is calling for FIFA to establish “a blanket ban on the signing of minors” to football teams. He hopes that such a ban will save the thousands of youths who leave Africa in hopes of becoming professional athletes but who often finding themselves sexually exploited instead.

“I’ve been through that,” he said, “I survived. But what about the young kids that are coming up? Are they going to survive? Are they going to cope with that? We really need to find a way to stop all that.”

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h/t: Pink News