September 21, 2009

Afghanistan

Afghanistan players latest to go missing

Martin Williamson

It has emerged that five members of Afghanistan's Under-19 side who were in Toronto to take part in the ICC Under-19 World Cup Qualifier failed to return home with the rest of the squad and may be seeking asylum in Canada.

This news comes days after it was revealed seven of the Uganda U-19 squad had gone missing. They are also believed to be planning to seek asylum.

Reports are confusing, but Pajhwok Afghan News claimed five players and a coach were not among the squad who were given a reception at the presidential palace in Kabul on their return home. The agency went on to say that President Hamid Karzai expressed anger when told of the missing members.

Sources laid the blame on the tour management for failing to keep hold of the squad's passports, making it far easier for them to disappear.

There has been no official comment from the Afghanistan board, although a spokesman speaking off the record insisted the six were not missing and would be returning home soon.

If the Afghanistan and Ugandan players have gone missing with the aim of claiming asylum then it raises doubts about teams from countries which might be considered high-risk regarding the likelihood of individuals taking a similar course of action being granted visas for future events.

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Williamson
Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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