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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Hopes dashed in Singapore
Sporting Afrique president Collin Chee (Photo: Mediacorp Press)
Chee wants the players to perform better and get bigger contracts
Six months ago, 22 Africans arrived in Singapore hoping to use football as an escape route from poverty.

But those dreams have become a nightmare in the city state, with barely enough money to make ends meet.

The players, mostly from Nigeria, Kenya and Cameroon, are living in squalor in one of the richest places on earth.

All 22, who play for Sporting Afrique in Singapore's S-League, live in a semi-detached house, with five or six players sharing a single room.

The players have been receiving just over US$60 per month since January instead of US$1,000 per month stipulated in their contracts.

This is about three times less than what an average maid or foreign domestic worker earns in Singapore.

There's simply no way anyone can live on US$60 a month in Singapore
Sporting Afrique player
And the players, who are bound by contract not to speak to the media or risk getting the sack, say they have had enough.

Speaking to BBC Sport on condition of anonymity, one of the footballers said their predicament was "unacceptable".

He said: "When we came to Singapore, we were promised better lives and better contracts from what we had in Africa.

"But we have barely enough to travel and buy food. And we can't afford to send any money back home.

"There's simply no way anyone can live on US$60 a month in Singapore."

But Sporting Afrique claim that the players have separate contracts which allow for deductions for food and accommodation.

Club president Collin Chee, a member of the Football Association of Singapore council, said: "We are not a rich club and this is our first season in the S-League.

"The players knew what they were signing. We're not short-changing any of them," Chee, a former TV actor, told Singapore's Today newspaper.

He added: "If they play well, they will be offered bigger contracts at other clubs. That should be their ambition."

But the players have threatened to take "further steps" if their demands for better pay and living conditions are not met.

"If necessary, we will seek help from our embassies and report the matter to Singapore's Ministry of Manpower," said the Sporting Afrique player who spoke to BBC Sport.



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