Homeless World Cup players seek Australian home

December 10th, 2008 - 1:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Dec 10 (DPA) Finalists in last week’s Homeless World Cup football tournament in Australia are expected to seek asylum after going missing in Melbourne or failing to show up for flights home.The Afghans, who beat the Russians in the men’s final, are missing as are the Liberians, who lost 7-1 to Zambia in the women’s final.

Most of the Liberians absconded before Sunday’s final was played, prompting organisers to field Australians as substitutes.

The tournament, now into its sixth year, pits sides from 56 countries. Teams of four play on a pitch the size of a basketball court. Players must have been homeless since July 2007, be receiving help for drug or alcohol abuse or be an asylum seeker.

Austria put on the first event in 2003, followed by Sweden, Scotland, South Africa and Denmark.

Homeless World Cup media director Kat Byles told the Herald Sun newspaper that 15 African players went missing during the Copenhagen event and that she expected there would be pleas for asylum in Australia.

“It’s something that happens in international events,” she said.

An Immigration Department spokeswoman confirmed that 15 applications for “further” visas had been lodged by players.

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