John Mikel Obi opens up on family exploitation of professional footballers in Africa (VIDEO)
Former Nigeria and Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi, has candidly addressed the prevalent issue of familial exploitation faced by successful African professional footballers.
Mikel Obi expressed his insights on this matter during a compelling discussion on the VIBE with FIVE podcast, hosted by former England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.
Mikel Obi shed light on the unique challenges faced by athletes originating from Africa, emphasizing the burdens placed upon them when financial success is achieved. In his words, "You get threatened by your own blood. When you come from Africa, and this is something I don’t think we speak a lot about, when you make money, it’s not your money."
When u make it in the game…. Beware! 🧨💰👀 pic.twitter.com/Xv04xpywsp— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) November 16, 2023
The football stalwart elucidated the intricate dynamics, citing instances where family members and relatives leverage the athlete's success for their own gain.
Mikel Obi disclosed the unsettling phenomenon where individuals within the familial circle, including sisters, marry with the ulterior motive of benefiting from the athlete's prosperity.
He remarked, "And your sisters, they go off and they get married to some guy who just wants to get married to John Obi Mikel’s family because my life is sorted. And then you start looking after this guy." Mikel Obi underscored the ensuing responsibility thrust upon the athlete to support an expanding family, often leading to financial strain.
The former Chelsea star highlighted the psychological pressure faced by athletes to comply with these demands, stating, "For them, you owe them that. So, sometimes you have to be strong and say, you know what, guys, enough is enough, I don’t care."
Mikel Obi revealed the coercive tactics employed by some family members, threatening exposure in the media if the athlete refuses to comply with their financial expectations.
Despite the prevalence of this issue, he acknowledged the hesitancy within the African community to openly discuss such challenges.
Drawing from his own illustrious career that commenced with Plateau United and saw him rise to prominence at Chelsea, Mikel Obi's reflections serve as a poignant testament to the unseen struggles faced by successful African footballers.
The esteemed athlete, who retired on September 27, 2022, after a remarkable career, now contributes his voice to shed light on a pervasive issue within the realm of professional sports.