Patrick Crozier has views on the saga of footballer Al Bangura
Many of you will be vaguely aware of the Bangura affair. Al Bangura is the Watford footballer who is about to be deported to Sierra Leone, where, according to him, he is likely to be killed. For extra colour there is some stuff about a voodoo cult and the bizarre ruling that his being a professional footballer with excellent prospects do not count because Sierra Leone is not one of the top 75 football teams in the world. Go figure.
I should point out that I am a half-hearted Watford fan but this does not affect what I am about to say. I would say the same if the guy played for L*t*n. All it means is that I am slightly more familiar with the case.
I have no idea if what Bangura says is true. Frankly, it could be a pack of lies for all I care. Given the stakes involved: the best job in the world or exile to some African shithole, it would hardly be surprising if he were telling the odd porkie. But it does not matter. The way I see it the guy has every right to be here. Not because he is fleeing persecution, not because he is a good footballer, not because he pays his taxes or ‘enriches’ British culture…
But because he is a human being.
I think everybody should be able to live everywhere, subject, of course, to the usual libertarian provisos about property rights.
My guess is that sense and political manipulation of the judiciary will prevail. This has the potential to become a real cause celebre – you can just imagine the stink if he gets sent back to Sierra Leone and does indeed wind up dead – and because of that I do not think it will happen. Or if he does get deported he will soon find a job somewhere else. I hear LA Galaxy are looking to strengthen their midfield.
But it makes me think about all those who are not professional footballers – the ordinary joes who just want to make better lives for themselves or to escape the hope-crushing Kafka-with-machetes world that is so common in Africa. They have to face the more ordinarily-Kafkaesque world of the immigration system without the support of football clubs and their umpteen thousand supporters. For them the difference between prosperity and poverty hangs on a civil servant’s whim. The more honest must be tortured by debates over when to tell the truth and when to lie like crazy. It must be agony.