On the 4th of August, the under 15 team of the Guatemala soccer federation is due to compete in the CONCACAF Boys U-15 championship. The event is taking place in Bradenton, Florida at the IMG Academy. The team was planning on going to Florida a few days earlier to spend some time in the city, but this dream is turning into a nightmare for the team. At least nine boys of the group, had their visa applications to the US denied.
According to the team’s spokesperson, the boys attended their visa appointments in Guatemala City at the US Embassy. They delivered all the required documentation for the applications. The visa was denied to enter into the US. They aren’t the only team who had some of their player’s permissions denied, yet it was considered as a noticeably large number for only one side. The team didn’t elaborate on why these visas were denied, and neither did state officials. The State Department commented that all visa applications are to be treated confidentially according to state law. This, however, did happen the day that US President Donald Trump announced that tariffs and more would be brought in against Guatemala for refusing to sign the Safe Third Agreement. The agreement stipulates that citizens of a country can only apply for refugee status in the first country which they arrive in. The deal is to control the refugee status of both the US as well as Canada. This agreement will also require Guatemala’s commitment to providing asylum to migrants who move through the country instead of letting them pass through to the US and Canada. For the tournament, it seems that only boys born after January 2004 were approved to be eligible participants in the competition.
The Guatemalan team will still partake in the tournament, but with different players. Currently, the team is under the top 14 units of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). The team who will be part of the tournament do have a disadvantage against them. The group initially picked to travel to Florida has been specially trained for the competition, and the new players going to the US haven’t received the same kind of focused training. The team is due to first face Haiti, Suriname and the US in the opening phase of the tournament. The tournament showcases a representation of 42 groups.
The first time that the tournament for the boys under 15 where held, was in 2013. This is an opportunity for more than 750 boys to gain access to international football. The tournament has two rounds, and all the teams are divided into three divisions. The competition aims to provide a minimum amount of matches for each group while providing a platform for international exposure and a sporting balance.
The world of politics and sport on the international level has often bumped heads in the past and have done so once again.