Nigerian football legend John Obi Mikel expressed the challenges of being in the game, stating that as an African player, you effectively pay additional taxes.
During an appearance on Rio Ferdinand’s Vibe with FIVE podcast, the former Chelsea midfielder revealed that players often need to send money back home to support family members who were left behind.
“When you come from Africa – and this is something we don’t talk about much – when you earn money, it’s not really your money. You have all these relatives, cousins, and others,” he explained.
“Your sisters, for example, get married to someone who simply wants to marry into John Obi Mikel’s family, believing that their life will be sorted by doing so.”
Mikel believes that this situation, which he and many other professionals face, needs to be addressed, even though he understands it is rooted in culture.
“You receive a salary and allocate money for this person, set aside for that person, and allocate more for your parents. Before you realize it, you are left with less than what they have,” Mikel highlighted.
“That is the norm. They expect you to do it. For them, you owe them. This story must be told. Many young African players who are emerging now need to know this because they will encounter similar situations,” he emphasized.
Despite facing threats and even blackmail, the 36-year-old emphasized the importance of having a strong mindset to say no.
“In Africa, not everyone speaks out about this because we wonder, ‘How can we talk about this? We even get threatened by our own family,” Mikel revealed.
“Sometimes, you have to say ‘Enough is enough, I don’t care’. I reached that point about five years ago. I said ‘No more’ because I’ve been doing this since I started playing football,” he added.
Mikel, who currently resides in Dubai, is thriving in the media industry. His podcast, The Obi One Podcast, is gaining popularity worldwide.