Pity The Poor Soccer Stars

Episodes

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01The Documentary2013011520130116 (WS)
20130119 (WS)
20130120 (WS)

Why do so many African football stars go from rags to riches - and back to rags again? In this two part series, the BBC sport correspondent Farayi Mungazi travels to Zambia, South Africa and Ghana to find out.

Accompanying Farayi on his journey, we meet football coaches, administrators and journalists, as well as some of the fallen heroes themselves. Starting in Zambia, we hear from erstwhile defender Elijah Litana, a man so dear to the Saudi Arabian club he played for that he was flown around in a royal private jet.

Elijah tells of the gambling and drinking that helped squander his fortune. Other impoverished former sportsmen describe being neglected by major foreign clubs, ripped off by managers, and lacking the financial insight to handle large earnings.

This, however, is more than just a story about football itself; it goes to the heart of African society too. As Farayi discovers, one of the most significant factors in the downfall of rich, successful players can be the demands of their own extended families, while the widely observed culture of associating earning with adulthood can mean that impressionable young men find themselves beyond the wise counsel of their elders.

(Image: A referee's hand holding up a red card, Credit: AFP)

Why do so many African football stars go from rags to riches - and back to rags again?

Why do so many African football stars go from rags to riches - and back to rags again? Farayi Mungazi is in Africa to find out.

02The Documentary2013012220130123 (WS)

Why do so many African football stars go from rags to riches - and back to rags again?

In this two part series, the BBC sport correspondent Farayi Mungazi travels to Zambia, South Africa and Ghana to find out.

Starting in Zambia, we hear from erstwhile defender Elijah Litana, a man so dear to the Saudi Arabian club he played for that he was flown around in a royal private jet. Today, Elijah tells of the gambling and drinking that helped squander his fortune. Other impoverished former sportsmen describe being neglected by major foreign clubs, ripped off by managers, and lacking the financial insight to handle large earnings.

As Farayi discovers, one of the most significant factors in the downfall of rich, successful players can be the demands of their own extended families.

In part two we learn about some of the solutions being mooted: From compulsory savings schemes to a controversial retirement charge, levied on tickets. We meet the former footballers who avoided disaster, and ask if their experiences could provide a lesson for today's youngsters. Or, is a new generation of African players doomed to risk penury?