The Battle of Algeria

For three years, from 2015 to 2018, a team of journalists working in Algeria for BBC News Arabic gathered information and testimonies from a number of sources, including agents, match-fixers, match officials, ex-players and club chairmen. Our writer has been given access to the transcripts. They paint a damning picture of a domestic football scene in which corruption is affecting everyone without exception, be it as culprit or victim, and often both. This article is based, in part, on the evidence gathered during those three years of investigation as well as on independently-gathered information. Some names have been changed to protect the anonymity of our sources.

By Philippe Auclair

To start with, Majid was just a familiar face around a First Division club, a labourer charged with menial tasks who'd got to know a few players at the training ground, always ready to give a hand when one of the pros needed it. Fix a pipe? Sure! Want a ride back home in my car? Thanks! As is natural in a world which is wary of outsiders, sometimes pathologically so, the figure in the background gradually stepped out of the scenery to become the guy who would address the local football stars by their first names and whom they could turn to when they wanted some friendly advice. Majid was helpful, personable - and smart. When one of these stars asked his opinion about his forthcoming transfer, he proposed to act as his agent. 'It'll look more professional', he said. Majid was as good as his word. The contract was signed to everyone's satisfaction, and the handyman pocketed his first few million dinars, a few thousand dollars, a fortune. There'd been nothing untoward in the transactions. The agent had fought his player's corner, insisting that the whole of the transfer fee be paid in totality on the day the contrac...

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