Street football kids refused visas for Germany
26 June 2006, BERLIN - Two teams from Ghana and Nigeria have been refused visas by German authorities to take part in the first world street football championship in Berlin July 2-8, it was reported Sunday.
26 June 2006
BERLIN - Two teams from Ghana and Nigeria have been refused visas by German authorities to take part in the first world street football championship in Berlin July 2-8, it was reported Sunday.
Insiders told the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel that members of the Search and Groom side from Lagos and Play Soccer from Accra were deemed "not to be deeply-rooted in their homeland".
German authorities routinely check all visa applications amid concerns that applicants may want to try to stay on illegally in the country as economic refugees.
"All the visa applications were carefully checked. Unfortunately in isolated cases it was not possible to grant visas," a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman was quoted as saying by Tagesspiegel.
The decision was called "bitter" by Juergen Griesbeck, director of the Streetfootballworld organisation. "The youngsters had their bags packed, and had to unpack them again."
But he did say there had been "constructive dialogue" with the foreign ministry, which had granted visas to 11 of 13 teams from countries where these were needed in order to enter Germany.
Insiders said ministry officials had ruled that the "not deeply- rooted" youngsters came from broken homes - precisely the sort of kids the street football projects aimed to help.
A spokesman for football's international ruling body FIFA, which promotes the Search and Groom side, declined to comment on the ministry's decision.
Griesbeck was quoted as saying: "It's part and parcel of the project that the youngsters have not grown up on the sunny side of life."
Refusing the visas was "a vicious circle that can't be broken", even though German embassies on the spot had supported both street football projects.
Subject: German news