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Eritrean Players Paid Guarantee Before Fly To Namibia

Eritrean national team's players exploiting tourism and visited some of the vital features in Namibia. Here they posed in front of the Sam Nujoma monument in Windhoek on 9 Sept 2019.
Eritrea’s government has found a novel way to stop its sportsmen defecting every time they play abroad by forcing footballers to pay a bond and surrender their title deeds before leaving the country. Members of the Eritrean football team each reportedly paid a £5,600 guarantee before being allowed to fly to Namibia for a World Cup qualifier, this was quoted by Radio Erena, a broadcaster run by Eritrean diaspora and exiles in Paris, France. Eritrea has many talents but people are scattered over the world. When the group of seven decided to return home in order to support their native country include Henok Goitom who plays as a centre forward for AIK in Sweden some have declined to so.

 “This has become the norm in Eritrea for home-based players to proved a guarantee before travelling to an international tournament,” the radio station quoted a source saying. Eritrea is widely seen as Africa’s most repressive state, Eritrean sport authority has struggled in the past to stop its sporting stars vanishing after away fixtures. When the national football team last tried to qualify for the World Cup in 2015, ten players refused to return home after a game in Botswana. 10 Eritrean men who refused to board their plane were detained by police after deciding so. They are reported to have refused to go home despite the intervention of the Eritrean ambassador in Botswana.

Eritrean National Team 'Red Sea Camels' arrive at Hosea Kutako in Windhoek, Namibia. @Musa
Three years earlier, 15 members of the squad, and the team doctor, vanished in Uganda. It is not just footballers. There have been a number of mass defections by Eritrean athletes in recent years. One of the most noticeable was in 2013, when Uganda granted asylum to 15 Eritrean players include their team doctor after they absconded at the end of a football tournament.

A third of the Eritrean team that participated in the Olympic Games in London in 2012 turned themselves into asylum seekers, including the athlete who carried the national flag during the opening ceremony. As many as a tenth of Eritrea’s 5m people — including at least 120,000 asylum seekers in Europe — have fled the regime of Isaias Afwerki, a despot who has never allowed an election in the 26 years he has been in power. Defecting sportsmen often say they are trying to escape national service, which can last decades in deplorable conditions where conscripts face torture and slave labour, according to human rights groups and the United Nations.

The repeated defections have harmed the performance of the Red Sea Camels, as the national team is known. Eritrea stands third from bottom in the latest FIFA rankings, sandwiched between East Timor and the Cayman Islands. Although Eritrea lost the game against Namibia, and so did ended its World Cup qualifying campaign, the government will welcome the fact that recent years, there were no reported defections. Although some fear still hovering for possible defections in away match —Windhoek.
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