US denies visas to Tibetan women’s football team

Visas for 15 players hoping to take part in the Dallas Cup were rejected on fears they may try and stay in the US.

Several members of the Tibetan women’s football team have been denied U.S. visas ahead of the Dallas Cup this spring, according to The Guardian. Team captain Jamyang Chotso said that members of the Tibet Women’s football team were told “we don’t have strong reasons to go to Dallas.”

The U.S. Embassy in Dehli told 15 players they wouldn’t be granted visas for the 10-day trip. Chotso believes the United States government is concerned the players, the bulk of whom are between 18 and 20 years old, would desert once they reached U.S. soil.

“[We] think the reason is they think we might run away when we reach there,” said Chotso.

The Dallas Cup organisers planned ahead to get the Tibet Women’s Football team included in the tournament, working out events and training schedules. But after traveling to Delhi to receive visas from the U.S. embassy, the players found their requests rejected.

Tibet women’s football coach Cassie Childers, who is American, said inclusion in the tournament was “a dream come true” for the women. She said she felt “disgusted” and “ashamed of my country” following the rejection. “They weren’t trying to immigrate,” she said. “They were trying to play soccer.”

Several players are still holding out hope that the issue can be resolved, though. “We really, really want to fulfil our dream. I still want to go,” Chotso said.

Her teammate Yangdan Lhamo said: “I feel very upset the USA rejected us.”

The team burned through half of its yearly budget just to apply, according to Childers. Now, it remains to be seen if the U.S. State Department changes its mind or upholds to decision to bar the players entry to the country.