Soccer Team Stuck

Mitch Gelman
Date Published: 

Haitians denied asylum

The Haitian national soccer team was stranded in Trinidad yesterday after the U.S. Embassy refused the request of political asylum made by 17 of the team's 18 players, international soccer officials said.

"They don't want to go back home," Oswald Davis, a member of the Trinidadian Football Association, which organized the tournament, said in a telephone interview yesterday. "They said they would rather commit suicide than go back to Haiti."

The team's five officials and one of the players planned to return to Haiti and leave the others behind, Davis said.

The embassy reportedly turned down the request for political asylum on the grounds that only Trinidadian residents could apply for asylum there. An embassy official told the Haitian soccer players to apply for asylum once they got back to Haiti.

The team arrived in Trinidad April 7 to compete in the Shell Caribbean Cup and was eliminated four days later.

Yesterday, the team members, who were running out of money, remained at their hotel in Port of Spain. The desk clerk at Jireh's Guest House, where the team was staying, said the players were lounging around and watching television.

Their fates remained undetermined, said Harold Taylor, general secretary of the Caribbean Football Union. Taylor said the players were supposed to leave on Tuesday after they were eliminated from the tournament. The team had not played well, losing to Martinique and tying Surinam after beating the Cayman Islands.