Are you planning to be at the World Cup in Russia next month?

If you are, you are not alone. The World Cup is the world’s biggest football event and it attracts all kinds of people including flesh hawkers and human traffickers.

An intelligence report has shown that human traffickers are planning to exploit relaxed Russian visa controls for next month’s World Cup to sell Nigerian women into sex work.

Nigerian officials and anti-slavery activists said they had intelligence showing plans were well underway to traffic Nigerian girls into Russia for the football tournament.

Their plan is to take advantage of a plan by Moscow to let spectators enter the country with just a ticket and a fan pass.

“This is a real present for traffickers,” said Julia Siluyanova of Russian anti-slavery group Alternativa.

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She said Russia’s strict visa process had typically made trafficking people into the nation time-consuming and costly and the eased visa rules had now left the system open to abuse.

Many women and girls have been lured from Nigeria in recent years with promises of work and good wages only to end up trapped in debt bondage, and the World Cup could see the number of victims arriving in Russia soar, according to Alternativa.

“We discovered that about 30 victims (Nigerian women) were brought to the Confederations Cup in Moscow last year ... we expect to face the same problem during the World Cup this year,” Siluyanova told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.

Visa-free entry was trialed at the Confederations Cup and will apply to the entire World Cup, which runs in 11 Russian cities from June 14 to July 15, and the ten days either side.

More so, Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency NAPTIP said it also had received intelligence that human traffickers were planning to take advantage of the tournament, and that it was working with the Russian embassy in the capital of Abuja to tackle the issue.

“If we alert Nigerians, we disrupt them (traffickers) ... and let them know that these plans are in the works,” said Arinze Orakwu, head of public enlightenment at NAPTIP.

NAPTIP was unable to say how many women were trafficked into Russia, but an official in Nigeria’s Edo state said it was sizeable.

“Women are being trafficked to Russia, and we get returnees back from Russia,” said Yinka Omorogbe, head of Edo’s anti-trafficking task force. “It is not a frequent destination in the same way as Italy is, but we do get a pretty large number.”

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