Offer to join 'Manchester United Soccer School' is a scam
No, the “Manchester United Soccer School” is not hosting soccer trials for young South African players.
Had it not been that the letter from the “Man U” school about the fictional trials was handed to her 13-year-old son by his school in Observatory, Johannesburg, Susan Smuts would have done some checks before responding to it. “Clearly the deputy headmaster thought it was a legitimate offer and handed out those letters to learners he thought may be interested,” she said.
And that’s how Smuts came to engage with “Sabrina Governder” of the “Manchester United Soccer School” (MUSS), mainly via WhatsApp.
She was asked to pay R1,500 to confirm her son’s registration, by means of a voucher bought from Shoprite, Checkers, USave or Pep to secure him one of the “limited” spaces. No venues or dates for the trials were specified. She obliged, sending the woman Checkers vouchers.
Then “Sabrina” asked Smuts if she’d like to buy a MUSS-branded trial uniform for her son, at an additional cost of R1,000, which she did by means of another voucher.
After that, “Sabrina” cut contact with her.
Resigned to her loss, Smuts is keen to warn others.
This scam has been running in various forms, on and off, for more than 20 years.
The one doing the rounds in South Africa promises the hosting of two-day MUSS trials in all nine provinces, for boys and girls aged seven to 21.
“Each player is challenged to progress in the technical, tactical, physical, mental and social aspects of football,” the letter reads.
“Players leave with an understanding of the club’s philosophy and an insight into the professional game. Participants will get an insight into how players are trained at the Manchester United Soccer School as they will be taking part in the same type of training sessions, all delivered by an excellent team of MUSS International Coaches.”
South African Football Association’s Makhetha Nzimela has urged parents to always double-check with local officials and offices to find out if such projects are legitimate.
Thirteen years ago, Manchester United warned South African parents about a scam e-mail which was circulating in the country at the time, offering youngsters the chance to participate in trials — held in England — free or for a fee, depending on “the time of registration”.
At the time, the club warned: “This e-mail has been unlawfully using the Manchester United Soccer School’s brand name and crest without the consent of this company or its affiliates.”
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