15 soccer players vanish during homeless world cup

Wait a minute, homeless  world cup?


From Spiegel:

The Homeless World Cup brought 500 homeless people from around the world to Denmark to play soccer. But Copenhagen appears to have been too welcoming — 15 players have overstayed their visas and gone underground.

The Afghanistan team parades in Copenhagen's City Hall Square during the opening ceremonies of the Homeless World Cup. One of their players has gone missing, along with 14 Africans.

It was a fantastic opportunity for the underprivileged to travel to Europe. But for 15 of those underprivileged, the Homeless World Cup in Denmark appears to also have been a fantastic opportunity to stay on in Europe and go underground.

Fifteen players from Africa and Afghanistan who had come to Copenhagen to take part in the event — a six-day street soccer tournament for teams of homeless people from around the world — have disappeared, police and organizers reported Monday. Six players failed to show up for training last Thursday while nine more disappeared after Saturday's final. The 15 men had entry visas for Denmark which expired Monday.

The runaway athletes — seven Burundians, four Liberians, three Cameroonians and one Afghan — could already be outside Denmark as their visas allow them to travel within the 15-country Schengen zone, where border checks have largely been removed. If found, they will be deported.

"We have never experienced it before," said Kat Byles, spokeswoman for the organization behind the Homeless World Cup. "We're very surprised because 15 players is quite a lot."

The tournament, which featured 500 homeless participants from 48 countries, finished Saturday with a 9-3 victory for Scotland over Poland. Players said participating in the tournament had boosted their self-confidence.