Cédric Bakambu scored in Villarreal’s victory over FC Astana and turned to the cameras, crossing his wrists. The gesture has been repeated across Europe with players including Cheick Doukouré of Levante and Valencia’s Geoffrey Kondogbia also making the same silent comment last weekend in LaLiga. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is another high-profile star to have followed suit.
La celebración de Cheick Doukouré (Levante) reclamando la libertad de los esclavos negros en Libia.— Alberto Edjogo-Owono (@albertoowono) 19 de noviembre de 2017
Bravo 👏🇨🇮 pic.twitter.com/q92fGw9Pxp
The gesture is being used by players to highlight the issue of 21st century slavery, which was brought to light by a CNN documentary covering the plight of immigrants arriving in Libya in attempt to reach Europe via the war-torn country. In the exclusive CNN report, filmed with a hidden camera, a group of human traffickers are seen selling the would-be migrants to the highest bidder in a chilling recollection of the slave auctions of the 18th and 19th century.
Libya, which has been riven by civil war since the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, has become one of main routes used by mafias offering passage to Europe to African migrants but as the CNN investigation highlights, instead of guiding them to the coast criminal gangs are increasingly involved in to what all intents and purposes is a 21st century slave trade.
Political reactions to the CNN report have begun to develop and in the world of football players are using their global profiles to draw attention to the tragic issue.
After Levante’s game last weekend against Espanyol in Cornellà, Doukouré, an Ivory Coast international, took off his club shirt to reveal one underneath with the message: “Outside of football I am not for sale.”