Football: Cameroonian's death highlights Indonesia crisis

Football: Cameroonian's death highlights Indonesia crisis
This picture taken in Tangerang, west of Jakarta, on December 26, 2013 shows Beliby Ferdinand Bengondo holding a picture of his late brother, Salomon Bengondo.

TANGERANG, Indonesia - It was the dream of sporting glory that drew talented Cameroonian striker Salomon Bengondo to Indonesia - but his story ended in poverty, illness and an untimely death, in a country failing to pay its footballers.

The withholding of wages by Indonesian clubs has reached "catastrophic proportions" according to international players' union FIFPro - and Bengondo is the second foreign player known to have died after going unpaid.

In 2012 Paraguayan striker Diego Mendieta died of a viral infection after he too was unable to afford treatment, following months without wages.

Bengondo arrived in Indonesia in 2005, a promising young footballer who hoped to build a career in Southeast Asia's biggest nation.

"He had every chance, he had great hopes," his brother Beliby Ferdinand told AFP this week at the modest house that they used to share, near the capital Jakarta.

Bengondo died last month at the age of 32, unable to afford hospital treatment for a mystery illness. His former club, Persipro Bond-U, still owed him large sums of money, according to his brother and Indonesian football officials.

Like many African players, Bengondo came to Indonesia in search of a higher salary. While the wages may not be in the same league as European clubs, Indonesian sides are generally better-paying than those in Africa.

He had been so incensed at his treatment that he took to the streets to beg in protest with his African teammates in 2012, apparently with little effect. "The club still did nothing", Ferdinand, 27, said.

Brendan Schwab of FIFPro warned the issue of Indonesian clubs failing to pay players had reached "literally catastrophic proportions".

"We can't think of a country in the world of football where the problems of the players are more pronounced or more serious than Indonesia," Schwab, head of FIFPro's Asian division, told AFP.

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