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Pity The Poor Soccer Stars

Duration:
25 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 15 January 2013

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)

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