Members of Moroccan beach soccer team denied visas
Organizers of an international beach soccer tournament taking place at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal this weekend are extremely upset and embarrassed by the actions of the Canadian federal government for refusing to grant visas to 10 Moroccan players.
Some officials in the Embassy in Rabat were apparently worried members of the Moroccan team players might defect.
Tournament organizer George Papamikidis says it's unacceptable that Canadian immigration officials banned members of the team, apparently because of concerns they'll stay behind and seek a better economic situation in Canada.
Papamikidis said the Moroccans denied entry constitute the country's national beach soccer team.
"It's not just a team that we chose…. It's the national team of Morocco! That alone is enough information to finalize a decision in favour of letting them come to Canada."
Christian Prevost, one of the organizers of the tournament said on Radio Canada. “We heard from Ottawa, which made a verification with the Canadian Embassy in Rabat, that some players do not have sufficient financial means, which raises doubts that they could remain here after the tournament, ”
This decision utterly annoyed the Mayor of the the borough of Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension, Anie Samson. “It does not make sense, they are not just visitors, this is a national team that comes in an international tournament where there will be Brazil, Mexico, Italy, the United States and they said no. Imagine the message we are sending to the world,” the Mayor said.
“These players are not anybody. These are professionals. The Moroccan team has travelled around the world and participated in many tournaments. We are surprised and shocked by this decision,” Mohammed Zemmouri, journalist with Atlas Mtl, told Radio Canada.
Moroccan team coach Mustafa El-Haddaoui says his players all play professionally, and are already well off, so there's no concern that they'll defect.
Morocco World News is reporting that he Maghreban community living in Canada have denounced the decision in the strongest terms.
To voice its indignation towards the “humiliating” decision of the Canadian authorities, the Maghreban community is due to organize a sit-in on Friday at 5 pm local time (9pm GMT) in front of the Uniprix Stadium, which will host the competition.
“We, Canadian citizens of North African origin, categorically condemn this decision which is detrimental to our image and dignity,” Rachid Najahi chief operating officer at Atlas media, who is among the organizers of the protest, told Morocco World News.
The 8-team tournament runs until Sunday.
Hopefully the Canadian government will apologise and reprimand the over-zealous officials in Rabat.