Sh.. happens

By J L Romanillos, MA TEP

Sala, Pellegrini, Neymar & Ozil - all needing protection, security or insurance in an increasingly risky globalized world

I remember walking into the plush lounge of an elegant London Hotel one chilly February afternoon this year. The football agent I was meeting, Tony, I could see sitting in a corner, his head in his hands. He looked troubled.

"Hi Tony. What's the matter? You OK?", I asked him.

"No. Didn't sleep a wink last night. Been trying to sort out this bloody mess with one of my players".

'What mess? What's happened?"

"This lad...I've told him so many times...met this girl last night in a club...went back to his place...they sleep together...then she gets up and demands £100k in cash or she says she's going to the police and the papers to claim he raped her. Mate, he called me to just get the money and pay 3 in the morning. Still dealing with it…"

Sadly, this criminal act of "entrapment" and "blackmail" is a real-life example of just what can go so horribly wrong as a result of "criminal" or risky activity and can so quickly turn around the fortunes of high profile persons, including sports stars, actors, politicians and business executives. The list of such recent incidents is considerable:

Manuel Pellegrini (Manager, West Ham Utd) - Saturday 2nd June 2018

On their way to a restaurant in Conchali, Santiago (Chile), Manuel and his wife Carola Pucci were mugged by armed robbers.

Protection Officer? No. Insurance in place? Possibly, but no need as Manuel managed to fight them off. Terrifying.

Emiliano Sala, Argentine & Cardiff City Footballer - 21 January 2019

The small airplane taking Emiliano from Nantes to Cardiff crashed into the sea off the Channel Island of Alderney, taking both pilot and player to their deaths - a flight that should never have taken place. Protection Officer? No. Risk & safety checks? No. Insurance? Fortunately yes, but the claim is still with the lawyers.

Neymar, Brazil and Paris St Germain Footballer - May 2019

Ms Najila Trindade files a rape complaint with Sao Paolo police against Neymar after their meeting in a Parisian hotel. Case dismissed.

Protection officer? No. Risk & safety assessment? No. Damage to reputation and career? Possibly.

Mesut Ozil & Sead Kolasinac, Footballers, Arsenal FC - 8 August 2019

Returning together from their training session at Arsenal, their vehicle was car-jacked in leafy Camden, London, in broad daylight, by a gang of armed and masked motorbikers.

Personal security? No, but now most certainly yes. Risk & safety assessment? Perhaps. Insurance? Perhaps, but now most certainly yes.

This last incident, in particular, is for me the most worrying and sends alarm bells ringing. In my travels I see increasingly a world that is becoming more globalized, with communities that are increasingly multi-cultural and multi-national. This diversification and integration brings with it many positive aspects - new faiths, talent, tolerance, shared customs, skilled workforce, business opportunities.There is also, however, a darker side to this global connectivity, as these new transferred and absorbed customs could include "criminality". In areas of the world, "kidnap and ransom" (K&R) forms a part of daily life. It is a criminal activity that is recognized as a potentially lucrative business model, where wealthy individuals or family members are targeted, seized and ransomed back to their loved ones. A cut-off finger in the post is often, terrifyingly, their calling card.

There is a second layer linked to this event, that of gang culture. With the increasing social, health and financial pressures linked to unemployment, drugs and disaffected youth, there appears to be a significant increase in gang growth and activity in many European cities.

I fear that very shortly we will see our first high profile "K & R" event in Paris, Madrid, Rome or London. For the sake of the families I pray this never happens, and I suppose that the point I am trying to make here is the old adage of "prevention being better than cure". A few simple measures could make a huge difference and save someone's life, career and loved one. I tell my clients and their agents the a risk analysis of your situation, take security advice, change your daily routines, undergo some professional training, engage professional protection services, be social media "savvy", perhaps hire a bodyguard and, above all, take out insurance for both you personally and your possessions...

Tony spent most of our scheduled meeting that February afternoon on his mobile phone, talking to his lawyer and the client. I left him with the matter unresolved and feeling very sorry for him. 6 months later, I understand that the matter was settled out of court, via a cash payment. That was one expensive night out for our young footballer friend.



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