The amount of money African footballers plying their trade in Europe make in salaries and bonuses is out of this world. While not all are not known to BE philanthropic, a select few have used their resources and connections to better their countries in a continent plagued by poverty and political turmoil. Celebrated ex-professional footballer George Weah-whose exploits in France, Italy, and England clubs saw him become the first and only footballer to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or-is the current president of Liberia. We take a look at current and ex-professional footballers who are making a change in their countries.
The highest paid footballer in Liverpool FC at a reported £200,000-a-week in wages. Mohamed Salah, whose contract with Liverpool runs until 2023, is not only known for his free scoring ways but also for his philanthropy. According to egyptindependent.com, the player donated US$3 million to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to renovate it after it had been attacked by terrorists. In 2017, Mo Salah donated over US$300,000 to the Tahya Masr Fund, an organization that fights Hepatitis C in Egypt. The prolific goal scorer donated five acres of land in his home village where a sewage station established.
Helping former players: the player reportedly donated over US$30,000 to assist for ex-Egyptians football players. The player assists 450 families in his home village by giving them a monthly stipend. Former Egypt national team’s media officer told BBC about Salah’s other side:
“It is well known that Salah dedicates a lot of money for those in need in his village. Everything goes through his father, who knows what to do.
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“For example, someone from the village preparing for a wedding will come to his father to request funds. Or if someone says he is sick, the father follows the case and if it is true, he will help pay for the operation.”
Drug addiction campaigns: his efforts in fighting drug addiction in his home country is well documented and has borne fruits.
The player also donated £1,000,000 to the Tanta University Hospital to supply it with modern medical equipment.
The lethal forward is another African player who has not forgotten his roots. Sadio Mane funded the construction of a new school to the tune of £250,000, according to the sun.co.uk. The Senegalese also give substantial amount of money for the construction of a hospital and a mosque. Mane reportedly gives around £70 local kids alongside football kits.
Didier Drogba-ex-Chelsea Forward
He played for a number of top tier clubs in Europe but it is in Chelsea that Didier Drogba made a name as one of the most lethal strikers in the English Premier League. That aside, Drogba used the power of football to end the civil war in Ivory Coast by appealing to the warring factions to come to the negotiating table. Through the providing Didier Drogba Foundation, the player has provided health and educational support to vulnerable people in Africa. His foundation was rocked with allegations of fraud with reports suggestions that out of £1.7million raised only £14,115 went to good causes. DDF was cleared from any wrong doing two years ago. A statement from Charities Commission read:
“We have been able to satisfy our most serious concerns in relation to the charity by confirming that funds have not been misapplied and that all funds raised in the English charity’s name have been held by the English charity. We are also able to confirm that we found no evidence of fraud or corruption on behalf of the charity.”
Kanu Nwankwo-Ex-Arsenal And Super Eagles Striker
He tormented defenders with so much flair that he became one of the most followed footballers in EPL. Nwankwo Kanu career was slowed down by a near death scare when he was diagnosed with a heart condition in 1996. The UEFA Champions League winner with Ajax Amsterdam underwent an open heart surgery at Cleveland Hospital in USA. This spurred the former Super Eagles national team player to start the Kanu Heart Foundation (KHF). To date, KHF has saved 542 lives. The 43-year-old father of three told theguardian.com of his organization:
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“We have saved 542,” he says. “But we keep doing it. This week four patients went to Sudan and we’re hearing that the operations were successful and another six are about to leave as well.
“We have partnered with hospitals, we do check-ups, we talk to the parents, we educate them and at the same time we take the kids to other countries for operations. The goal of the foundation is to build our own cardiac hospitals in Africa, starting in Nigeria. It would make it all much easier. As a footballer you win trophies and it’s good. But this is so much more.”
Samuel Eto’o-Cameroon International
Another goal scoring machine whose exploits in European clubs and the Indomitable Lions have firmly put him in the echelons of the best players in Africa. The former Barcelona frontman founded his organization Fundación Privada Samuel Eto’o IN 2006 which brings to light the challenges faced in Africa. His most notable cause is bringing awareness to the plight of Boko Haram victims.
Michael Essien (Ghana)
His organization-Michael Essien Foundation-raises funds to go towards healthcare,libraries, public toilets and clean drinking water in his hometown.
The Joseph Yobo Charity Fopundation has handed over 300 educational scholarships to the underprivileged.
Salomon Kalou and Bonaventure Kalou (Ivory Coast)
Salomon Kalou stint at Chelsea was the most successful after winning all the footballing honors with the club. His elder brother was another footballing talent who played for top tier clubs in Europe. The duo Foundation Kalou has donated over $600,000. The brothers have also funded the construction of kidney dialysis centre in Boakye, Ivory Coast.
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