From the Google cache of Dear Kitty ModBlog, source: Africa Leader:
UK: Blair bans African homeless footballers Linking: 3 Comments: 5
Date: 7/17/05 at 8:27AM
Mood: Thinking Playing: Get up, Stand up by Bob Marley
Homeless African footballers denied visas
By Mona McAlinden
African football teams have been refused entry to Britain to play in this week’s Homeless World Cup in Edinburgh.
Players from five African nations set to compete in the tournament for the first time have been issued with a blanket ban after British embassies withheld their visas – a decision branded “disgraceful” by organisers.
Campaigners have pointed to an “embarrassing” trend of African nationals being denied UK visas and claim that “racism” within the government may be to blame.
Homeless footballers from Burundi, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia were told last week they could not travel to Edinburgh because of fears that they may not return home.
Mel Young, director of the event which is currently in its third year, blamed a lack of understanding by UK officials for the last-minute decisions.
He said: “Our government has really let us down because they’ve almost deliberately misunderstood what the event is about.
The whole point of the competition is that people who are homeless or living in poverty participate and make progress in their lives.
We’ve been working with the government for some weeks, advising them on the situation and the status of the participants.
“They’ve been refused entry to the country, in my opinion, because they’re poor.
The official reason is that they don’t have connections in their home country that mean they will return.
They were asked questions like whether they have a bank account and a house.
Of course they don’t.
“Blair and Brown make great speeches about ending poverty in Africa but there’s not much substance.
We’ve got a project here that’s really working, it makes a huge impact on the lives of participants and they’re basically preventing that.”
Young described the treatment of the teams as “a form of perverse cruelty”.
He said the Burundi team were forced to make a six-day round-trip to Rwanda to get fingerprinted for visa applications, only to be refused access to the UK.
See also here.
Britain: Gifted young African footballer fights deportation: here.
Blairite racism: here.
Blair against black youth: here.