‘Missing’ footballers prompt new entry rules

'Missing' footballers prompt new entry rules
Action from a match played during the 2009 Gothia Cup
The disappearance of five Tanzanian youth footballers has prompted the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) to tighten entry requirements for non-European players in the Gothia Cup, the world's largest youth football tournament.

The event is held every July in Heden, outside of Gothenburg in western Sweden, and features 1600 teams from 60 nations.

Starting in 2011, players will be required to provide a fingerprint in order to receive an entry permit to Sweden, reported Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper.

The Migration Board wants to make it more difficult for players to drop out of the tournament and seek asylum under false pretenses.

Fingerprints make it easier to recognize individuals who apply for asylum elsewhere in Sweden or in other Schengen countries.

Five players from Tanzania disappeared after this year’s tournament. As of Monday, none of them had file asylum claims.

But Leif Andersson of Migrationsverket in Gothenburg says that most defectors wait awhile before applying for asylum. That makes it less likely that the Migration Board will be able to make a connection between the applicant and the Gothia Cup, reported GP.

The five who disappeared are born between 1990 and 1993 and all played for the same team. According to Nils Lundqvist, police inspector at in Gothenburg, it’s not uncommon for players to disappear in the wake of the tournament.

“It’s a common occurrence after Gothia. Every year, we have young people who disappear. There are always a handful, most often from African countries, who take off,” he told GP.

Lundquist told GP that last year, an entire team from Libya disappeared. In another case, a number of Tanzanian girls left their team in 2002. Four years later, two of them were found working as prostitutes in Gothenburg.

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