5 Eritrea women’s U-20 soccer players go missing in Uganda

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Five players on the Eritrea women’s under-20 soccer team went missing Tuesday from a hotel in Uganda during a regional tournament, police and organizers said.

The players disappeared from the hotel in Jinja in southeastern Uganda and “the matter has been reported to the police,” said the East and Central African soccer association, which is overseeing the tournament.

Eritrea is due to play host Uganda in the East and Central African women’s under-20 championship on Wednesday.

Eritrean athletes have often gone missing while with their teams at international sports events, usually to escape an oppressive regime and forced military conscription in their home country.

Two groups of soccer players went missing at two separate tournaments in Uganda in 2019 and 17 men’s national team players and a team doctor claimed political asylum in Uganda in 2012. Another 10 players with the men’s national team refused to board a plane home and asked to stay in Botswana after playing a World Cup qualifier there in 2015.

A handful of Eritrean athletes claimed asylum in Britain after the 2012 London Olympics.

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