Support The Moscow Times!

Now is the time to support independent reporting from Russia!

Contribute Today

Scammed Nigerian Footballers Stranded in Russia After World Cup, NGO Says


A group of budding football players from Nigeria has been stranded in Russia since arriving on a visa-waiver system for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, a Russian anti-slavery NGO has said.

Russian police have said that an estimated 5,500 foreigners who traveled to Russia visa-free for the football tournament have remained in the country since a special visa waiver program expired on Dec. 31, 2018. The Nigerian Embassy in Moscow estimated last July that 200 Nigerian nationals were waiting to be repatriated after falling victim to a scam in which their return tickets were canceled.

More than 10 Nigerian nationals are stranded in the southern Russian city of Sochi after falling victim to a scam, the anti-slavery NGO Alternativa said on Monday.

According to the NGO, the Nigerians had been promised a contract with a local footballing club by a man who had introduced himself as an agent. The man disappeared after receiving a commission of $500 from each of the players, leaving them stranded in southern Russia.

“Their fate remains unclear. If they try to file a statement with the police, they will immediately be detained for violating immigration laws,” Alternativa wrote on its Facebook page.

“Then what’s in store for them is a court hearing, a fine, a special detention center and deportation,” it said.

						 / Facebook / Facebook

Alternativa said that Nigeria's consulate in Russia had “listened to their appeal but refused to help.”

“Without their [the consulate's] intervention and sponsorship, I’m afraid there will no other result than deportation,” Yulia Siluyanova, a senior Alternativa staff member, told The Moscow Times.

Some of the men are being housed and fed by sympathetic locals, the NGO said.

Alternativa is a Moscow-based volunteer organization founded in 2011 that helps victims of sexual and economic slavery.

Read more

Russia media is under attack.

At least 10 independent media outlets have been blocked or closed down over their coverage of the war in Ukraine.

The Moscow Times needs your help more than ever as we cover this devastating invasion and its sweeping impacts on Russian society.