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African footballer: ‘your money is not your money’

By Razeen Gutta

Nigerian football legend John Obi Mikel spoke about the difficulties of being in the game, saying that as an African you effectively pay additional taxes.

Speaking on Rio Ferdinand’s Vibe with FIVE podcast, the former Chelsea midfielder said that players often need to send money home to support family members left behind.

“When you come from Africa – and this is something I don’t think we speak a lot about – when you make money, it is not your money. You have all these relatives, cousins, whatever,” he said.

“Your sisters, they go off and get married to some guy. He just wants to get married into John Obi Mikel’s family because then [he thinks] ‘my life is sorted’.”

Mikel believes the situation he and many other professionals face is one that needs to be raised, even though he knows it stems from culture.

“You get a salary and say, ‘I’ll put this aside for this person, put that aside for that person, and put that aside for my mum and dad’. Before you know it, you are getting less than them.”

“That is the culture. They expect you to do that. For them, you owe them. This story needs to be told. A lot of young African players that are coming up now need to be told this because they will go through similar situations.”

Despite experiencing threats and even blackmail, the 36-year-old stressed the importance of being strong-minded enough to say no.

“In Africa not everybody comes out and speaks about this, because we think, ‘How are we going to talk about this? You get threatened by your own blood.”

“Sometimes you have to say ‘Enough is enough, I don’t care’. For me that moment came about five years ago. I said ‘No more’, because I have been doing this since I started playing football.”

Mikel, who is based in Dubai, is now doing well in the media. His show, The Obi One Podcast, is making waves around the globe.

Pictured above: John Obi Mikel

Image source: @chels_hq