By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, June 23: After making headlines following their US Visa snub, the invitation from the Vancouver International Soccer Festival seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel. However, the planned trip now seems to be in limbo as the organizer of the festival in which the Tibetan women are to participate is facing extra scrutiny from the Canadian Soccer Association.
Tournament founder Adri Hamael told CBC News that the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) has suddenly started asking for all kinds of additional paperwork, including travel documents for the Tibetan players and a copy of the tournament rules.
"I suspect a big country is putting the pressure on the CSA saying this team shouldn't play under the name Tibet," said Hamael, the organizer of the tournament set to begin July 7.
Hamael also said that an email from British Columbia Soccer Association (BC Soccer) on behalf of the CSA suggests that ‘non-compliance with the requests might affect the insurance status of the tournament.’
“I believe they are trying to find something to prevent the team from playing," he said. “I find it a bit sinister, if you will, that after this many years they want to look at my rules and are subjecting me to this much scrutiny. I know it's because of team Tibet, but they won't say it.”
“I always had a good relationship with the BC Soccer Association and have never had any dealings with the CSA. The requests are strange and unprecedented in my 13 years of organizing the event,” said Hamael, who stepped in after the team was denied US Visa.
The team led by Cassie Childers, Director of Tibet’s Women Team, is not recognized as the national team by the Tibetan apex sport body, Tibetan National Sports Association. However, they welcome the work put in by the American Director to promote the sport.
If everything goes as planned, it would be the debut tournament for the women’s team on an international platform.