It hasn't been a banner spring for professional athletics in France. First, their football (soccer) team was caught visiting clubs where underage girls were forced into prostitution. And now, one of their professional rugby superstars has been arrested to keeping a Tunisian man in his home as a personal slave. Is there something in the French Gatorade that makes professional athletes think participating in human trafficking is okay?
Finau Maka, who has played rugby for Toulouse for the past eight years, is best known for his aggressive, effective style of play and trademark afro. But this week, the native Tonagan-turned-French-transplant was arrested after police raided his home to find a young Tunisian man living there. The Tunisian man claimed he was forced to serve Maka and his family against his will, and had been brought into France without any documents. Police also received reports that the man was kept in the home and not allowed to leave, treated with disrespect, and forced to perform numerous household tasks. Police are currently investigating his claims.
Ironically, the raid took place just hours after Maka's team won the Heineken Cup Final in Paris and were celebrating a victory. But instead of joining his teammates, Maka was being questioned by the police on slavery charges. It's hard to tell from the limited information that has been released about this case whether or not the Tunisian man was really being trafficked by the Maka family, but several of the symptoms of trafficking were present.
Professional athletes have been accused of a lot of criminal and immoral behavior, from rape to corruption to assault. But this is the first time I've heard a professional athlete accused of keeping a personal slave in his home. And I really, really hope its the last.