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Senegal - Local Football: Massive shipping of talent in search of El Dorado

Massive exodus of Senegalese footballers

Every off-season, the Senegalese league experiences a massive exodus of its best talents. The clubs of the elite see their best elements leave for better salaries, better working conditions and more ambitious sports prospects. This season will not be an exception to a rule now well established in the physiognomy of an end of year in Senegalese league 1. Sport News Africa looked at the exportation of talent that local Senegalese football experiences at the end of each season.

Lamin Jarju has left the Senegalese league for Sudan

Lamine Jarju, best player of the season, Bouly Jr Sambou and Ngagne Fall, joint top scorers of the championship or Malickou Ndoye, one of the best defenders of the league 1 ... So many talents lost by the Senegalese elite championship during this off-season. A phenomenon that grows year after year and the players seem to have accommodated. The reasons for this phenomenon, which are financial, social and also sporting, have finally plunged the players into a certain fatality.

An unbearable precariousness
Being a footballer in the first division of the country of African champions is a daily struggle for survival. The players of the Senegalese championship live in an unsuspected precariousness with derisory salaries and even worse for some of them. They don't say it, but some don't even earn 100,000 CFA francs (€150) a month, and some are not even paid, except in the clubs of the Federation's top executives," says Salif Diallo, a journalist with the Senegalese News Agency (APS). Lamine Jarju earns 40 million CFA francs per year at Al Hilal. With this money, I learned that he paid a house and a car to his mother. And that totally changes the outlook. And it's even better in the Golf championships," he says.

Ngalla Ndiaye, in charge of litigation at the UNFPS (National Union of Professional Footballers of Senegal), agrees. For him, the first failure is in the requirements of professionalism of the Senegalese championship. "The lightness of the requirements of the specifications to be met by the clubs is the main problem, he notes. When we say that the minimum salary is 75,000 CFA francs for a player in L1 and 50,000 CFA francs for a player playing in L2, we come to abuse of clubs that the law and the texts allow.

"We can not refuse salaries of 6 million FCFA for a salary of 50,000 FCFA "
In addition to the salary issue, that of the protection and status of players is problematic. Efforts have been made at the level of contracts where players are now given a copy of their contract," says Alpha Thiam, a former player of AS Pikine. But the players hide to sign their contract while some do not know what they sign. This opens the door to abuse by club managers. And they always get away with it because they are also members of the league and the Federation. There is clearly a conflict of interest. It is they themselves who must sanction these abuses of which they are the perpetrators."

Paradoxically, higher salaries were paid in the Senegalese league before 2009 and the start of professionalism. This strongly annoys the head of the players' union. We can not refuse salaries of 6 million CFA francs for a salary of 50,000 CFA francs," he said. Economically, we have the worst championship in Africa. Do you think that a TV or sponsors are jostling for matches where players receive 50,000 CFA francs, "regrets the secretary general of the UNFPS.

Leave abroad and get called to the national team
For the two friendly matches of Senegal against Bolivia and Iran, Aliou Cissé has unveiled a list of 29 players. None of them is playing in Senegal. At the head of the Lions for 7 years and a half, the outfield players of the Senegalese league 1 who had a selection in A are counted on the fingers of one hand. The last example dates back to more than a year ago with the right back of Teungueth, Moutarou Baldé during Senegal 2-0 Togo (1st day qualifications CAN 2021). This sporting perspective weighs on the possibility of seeing the best local players to register in the duration.

The players are convinced that if they do not leave they have no chance to be called to the senior team," said Ngalla Ndiaye. I do not see what the expatriates have more than our players to the point that they do not make the various stages before the senior team. It does not encourage to stay here because unfortunately they do not have the same treatment as the binationals and expatriates, "he regretted. In the early 2000s, performing in the Senegalese league offered real opportunities to join the national team.

"Jeanne d'Arc of Dakar tried to do so in the early 2000s with substantial salaries and participation in the Champions League. At the time, their players had the opportunity to play in the Senegalese team," emphasizes journalist Salif Diallo. He continued: "today, no club can retain its player. It is the family that will do the pushing. Family pressure is exacerbated because players sacrifice everything to succeed in football . And it is not in Senegal that they will succeed. It is not only the players who are in this situation. Even the coaches have nothing" he insists.

A complicity of the leaders
Even if the direct axis between the local championship and the big leagues is not very clear, the players and their entourages have found bridges to join the big Western leagues. "It is easier nowadays for players to go through minor European leagues to reach the big leagues. This is the case of Ibrahima Wadji who went through Norway, Azerbaijan to end up in Saint-Etienne (D2-France), " says the APS journalist.

"Sociologically we also find an explanation for this migration of Senegalese players. Beyond the human aspects of a better living condition, we think that when you travel you have succeeded. The first Senegalese billionaires went to seek their fortune abroad. So sociologically in Senegal, travel is synonymous with success," he notes. Traveling also increases the visibility for a player even if he was good enough to deserve the senior team, even if he was playing in Senegal. "Take the example of Ismaïla Sarr when he joined FC Metz. The next month he was called to the Senegalese senior team. And there are plenty of other examples of players who, as soon as they leave Senegal, they are called to the senior team," added Salif Diallo.

"The FSF and the LSFP must establish a quota of players in the senior team.
The phenomenon of this annual migratory wave will be difficult to stop without a real willingness of leaders who find their account in the short term even if it weakens their teams sport. The managers are getting rich on the backs of the players," says the secretary general of the UNFPS, also a former international. All these departures are motivated by money with club presidents increasingly greedy. The money from player sales is never really reinvested in the club. If it was, the players would have had better salaries and would not be so desperate to leave," he said.

The ultra centralized management in most clubs allows these managers to perpetuate these practices. Preventing at the same time, the sports development of these clubs. They could have equipped themselves with infrastructures for the club with the money of the sale of the players. This is not new. At the time of Omar Seck, Momar Ndiaye at JA, other club leaders ... All these people have made transfers that they have not invested in their club to make powerful clubs like in North Africa. Today we see it. They only think about their pockets. Fortunately there are some rare exceptions who make efforts, but the vast majority do not.

More attractive clubs and championships
The report is distressing but realistic. However, there are ways to make the championship more dynamic. "We have to make the championship more attractive. Today, when you win the title, the club only receives 25 million CFA francs. Without sponsors, how can a club pay salaries with that? First of all, we need a broadcaster so that the clubs have income from TV rights and that in return the players have more decent salaries," suggests Salif Diallo.

The former Senegalese international, Lamine Mboup, is in favor of a starification of local players. "We need to give local footballers a higher market value. Players that the fans want to see because they earn a good living. Imagine if the players earned 1 Million. People in his neighborhood would go out of their way to go to the games. The younger ones would take him as a model. It is necessary to create idols, champions in our local soccer," said the head of the union of professional players of Senegal (UNFPS).

The prospect of competing for the national team A by playing in the local championship is an important factor to push the residents of the local elite to register in the long term. "The FSF and the LSFP must establish a quota of players in the senior national team. Every coach will have to call 3, 4 or 5 of the best players of the championship in the national team A to enhance the championship. This is the only solution for the best players to accept to make seasons of confirmation with the prospect of selection" proposed Alpha Thiam. The midfielder trained at Casa Sport had himself the opportunity to fly to Italy and the club Empoli after a good season with AS Pikine. A departure finally aborted.

The destinations are no longer as prestigious as before. The nuggets of the Senegalese championship are tempted by the championships of Tanzania, Benin and even the Moroccan 2nd division. "In recent months many of our players have joined Morocco. Either in D1 or even in D2. The salaries are much better so this phenomenon is not ready to stop soon, notes Alpha Thiam. Our clubs do not work financially despite the fact that some of them have a good image. People get on average 100 to 150 thousand FCFA. Some experienced players or those who have played abroad manage to earn up to 300 thousand CFA francs and more.

And the fear of missing a chance reinforces this exacerbated tendency to leave whatever the destination. Can we blame them? "You can have a good season but nothing is sure that it will be confirmed the following season. Bouly Jr Sambou is one of the few players who have confirmed for three seasons in this championship. So consistency is not guaranteed and that pushes players to seize opportunities as soon as they present themselves," says Ngalla Ndiaye, in charge of disputes at the UNFPS.

 

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