Benjamin Acheampong says he has been duped out of $1m by a football club once, and he is determined it will not happen again – especially by the same organisation.
The Ghanaian has been deprived of more than $1m (£710,000) in a row with Egyptian giants Zamalek dating back to 2018, and despite the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) ordering the five-time African champions to pay him a similar sum two months ago, he says he is yet to receive a cent.
“This is not right – this is what I do to feed my family,” the 30-year-old told BBC Sport Africa. “They can’t treat people like animals. We are humans and we came here to work.”
As one of Africa’s biggest clubs allegedly ‘exploited’ the contract of a player it no longer wanted, it has been accused – by Cas itself – of “immoral”, “intimidating” and “merciless” behaviour.
Acheampong, a forward, joined the Cairo club on a four-year deal in 2017 but terminated his contract after 11 months, saying Zamalek never paid him correctly.
He also says that when he joined fellow Egyptian side Petrojet on a five-month loan in 2018, he was duped into signing a document which stated he would not just forego his Zamalek salary while at Petrojet – but for all of his contract.
With the stroke of a pen, he says he unwittingly gave up more than $1m.
“Nobody would do that,” said Acheampong. “The only thing I (knowingly) signed was that Petrojet would pay me the half-season I was going to play.”
In December, Cas said Acheampong had “just cause”, for a variety of reasons, to have unilaterally cancelled his contract with Zamalek, who must now pay him $1.1m.
Yet just when it seemed he would finally receive his dues, there was a twist.
In a letter to Fifa, Zamalek – Africa’s Champions League runners-up in 2016 and 2020 – announced a “settlement with the player’s agent” in which the Ghanaian had supposedly agreed to accept just $250,000.
Yet the agent – former Egypt captain Nader El Sayed – no longer represents Acheampong, the player says. He claims the Egyptian falsified papers purporting to enable him to deal with his former club on Acheampong’s behalf.
El Sayed, whose paperwork states he will receive 20%, has told the BBC the documents are both “authorised” and “official”.
“The mere contention that Mr Acheampong would – two weeks after the notification of the Cas decision – suddenly authorise a third party to accept a settlement for less than 25% of the amount due is preposterous,” said Roy Vermeer, the legal director at global players’ union Fifpro.
Acheampong has seen none of the $1.1m Zamalek were told to pay him, nor even the cheque for $250,000 – which he does not want – made out in his name and which, he claims, was handed to El Sayed.
On Thursday, Fifa, which has opened disciplinary proceedings against Zamalek, could hand the club a transfer ban and, possibly, either a points deduction or relegation too.
“They have to be punished,” said Acheampong.