3 December 2012

Eritrea/Uganda: Eritrean National Football Team Defects to Uganda

Photo: Steven Depolo/Flickr
The incident in Kampala was the third time the Eritrean football team had disappeared in an African state to claim asylum.

Eritrea's entire national football team has defected while on a visit to Uganda, according to one of the players.

The footballer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told RFI that 17 footballers and the team doctor are hiding in Kampala.

"Everybody has to stay in secure places because the Eritrean government is searching for us," he said. "The Eritrean embassay in Uganda are trying to find us."

The team member said the group could make an asylum claim on Thursday.

He said he had decided to flee Eritrea because of its many problems, citing the government of President Isaias Afeworki as "the main problem" and accusing it of failing to respect human rights and having a compulsory and extensive programme of military training.

The Red Sea Boys were until now participating in the Cecafa Cup, a tournament organised by the Council for East and Central Africa Football Association.

Eritrean footballers have often defected in the past, leading to them being required to pay a "surety" before traveling abroad - and suffer the consequences if they failed to return to Asmara.

Four players of Red Sea FC sought asylum in Kenya after a CAF Champions' League match in Nairobi in 2006. Up to 12 members of the national team stayed behind after the Cecafa Cup in Tanzania in 2007.

Another six players remained in Angola after an Africa Cup of Nations match in 2008.

Eritrea Red Sea Boys played their last game with Rwanda at Lugogo Stadium in Kampala, losing 2-0.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2012 Radio France Internationale. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

InFocus

Refugee Status for Eritrean Football Team

The incident in Kampala was the third time the Eritrean football team had disappeared in an African state to claim asylum.

The Ugandan government has reportedly granted refugee status to 15 former members of Eritrea's national football team who disappeared in the country in 2012 while taking part in a ... Read more »