The government of Netherlands has taken discrimination to another level after refusing to grant Team Nigeria entry into the country to participate in the Homeless World Cup tagged ‘Amsterdam 2015’ which kicks off this weekend.
Search and Groom; a non governmental organization in Nigeria, which partners the Homeless World Cup to prepare vulnerable Nigerians for the global football event, had applied to the Dutch government for visas to allow Nigeria’s contingent to take part in the event, only to be rebuffed by the European country.
The team of 8 players, coaches, and managers had to apply for their Dutch visa at the French embassy in Lagos, as there is no Dutch embassy there. After the French refused to issue the team visas, the Homeless World Cup organization asked the Dutch ministry responsible to issue the team visas on arrival instead. Although technically possible, the request was refused.
By this action Nigeria will be the only not participating out of the 49 countries invited for the championship, which hopes to inspire marginalized people to do great things.
President of the Homeless world Cup Mel Young is displeased with the Dutch government for their inaction which harms the Nigerian team.
“The decision is incomprehensible and simply the wrong thing to do. We are shocked and angered by this action by Dutch government officials, who are robbing homeless people of the opportunity to play for their country in an international tournament. Like all other teams, they had fundraised for the event and trained for months only to be told now that they are not welcome in the Netherlands,” he said.
“The Dutch government is sending out the wrong message. Here are people whose behavior is impeccable and they have done everything, which was asked them. Yet they are denied access to a sporting event for no apparent reason. They are all heroes and should be treated as such.” He added, “It also has implications for all international sporting events. Are African countries going to be denied access to all sporting events? This a dangerous precedent.”
Yomi Kuku, Director of the Nigerian project, said “it’s been months of hard work for everyone and just an effortless, shameful decision by France and by the Dutch government. What else can we do? We have all played our part. I will find the means to tell the heartbreaking news to our players and coaches.”
The Homeless World Cup offers homeless and marginalized people a hand-up to a better future. Since its first event in 2003, over 1 million players in 74 nations have used football to build self-esteem, improve their physical and mental well being, and ultimately change their lives. Over 70% of participants experience a significant life change – they come off drugs, alcohol, get jobs, homes, education; and training to become football players, coaches, and social entrepreneurs.