BY BRUCE JOHNSTON IN ROME
THE VATICAN this week condemned what it identified as a "soccer slave trade" between poor African countries and some of the leading football clubs in Europe.
According to Bernardo Cervellera, Director of Fides, the official organ of the Vatican "ministry" that handles missionary work, dozens of "predators" from football clubs — particularly in Italy and the Netherlands — began "scouting for talent" in
Olympics victory in Atlanta two years ago.
The scouts stand to make thousands of pounds from sponsorship deals when they pluck boys, some as young as eight, from their families, which they pay between 300,000 and 500,000 lire [£110 to £175].
Baroness Cox, who heads Christian Solidarity, responded to the claim and said it was an "extremely serious matter" and that her organisation would try to confirm the allegations made against specific