The mother of a 14-year-old Kiwi-born footballer has alleged that her son, who was initially selected to play in the prestigious Gothia Cup soccer tournament in China, was dropped from his team because his father is Tibetan.
Known as FIFA’s “World Youth Cup,” the Gothia Cup is an eight-day tournament to be held in Chengyang district in Qingdao, China. Over a million players from 143 countries have participated in the tournament since it began in 1975.
Nyima Tsering-Young was earlier tapped to play for a team by a private football academy in the upcoming tournament but encountered delays in the issuance of his visa. The talented Northland player was subsequently withdrawn from the team as the academy believes his visa will be eventually declined, NZ Herald reports.
According to Megan Tsering-Young, the player’s mother, she believed her son had been discriminated against by the Chinese Consulate issuing the visa because of his ethnicity, noting that the academy had no choice as the tournament is set to take place on August 11-16.
“This sort of decision is about racism. There were no delays with any other visas, only Nyima’s,” Tsering-Young was quoted as saying. “All of the visas have been processed in New Zealand but Nyima’s had to be sent to China, and the timeframe is indefinite, of course, it’s because he is half-Tibetan.”
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Tibet, a country rich in natural resources, was invaded by the then-newly established Communist Party of China in 1950. Tibetans attempted an uprising in 1959 which only lead to the death of 87,000 people. During the Great Leap Forward, between 200,000 and 1,000,000 Tibetans died, while approximately 6,000 monasteries were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, effectively destroying the majority of historic Tibetan architecture.
Tsering-Young said she sent her son’s visa application early because her family had been declined visas in the past when trying to visit her husband’s family in Tibet. She revealed that their emails and calls were ignored amid the ongoing delays.
“Then last week we got an update saying his visa might be considered if he wrote a letter declaring he was only going to play football and ‘not conduct any other activities’. I didn’t think a New Zealand-born 14-year-old boy playing football would be a threat – what activities do they think he is going to take part in?”
While they thought being asked to write the letter was unfair, Tsering-Young said Nyima was willing to write it so he could play. However, the academy just decided to simply let go of the young player.
Sought for comment, the academy declined and asked not to be named for fear the issue could jeopardize the team’s place in the tournament.