Eritrea’s national soccer team will not compete in the upcoming annual regional tournament, the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Ethiopia, later this month.

According to Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye said all other member countries, with the exception of Eritrea have confirmed participation in the tournament.

However, it remains unclear if Eritrea has been banned from participating in Ethiopia due to the repeated incidents where players refuse to return home and seek asylum in the host countries.

Uganda 2012 CECAFA champions Photo:
Uganda 2012 CECAFA champions Photo:

Musonye could not confirm whether Eritrea’s absence at the tourney was due to the ban, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Eritrea’s absence at the impending tournament will undoubtedly be conspicuously visible.  Eritrea recently made headlines after 10 members of its soccer squad refused to return home and the group was subsequently granted asylum after playing a World Cup qualifying match in Botswana.

That was not the first time that Eritrean athletes have refused to return home after participating in national sporting duties. In 2013, Uganda granted asylum to 15 Eritrean players and their team doctor after they refused to return home at the end of the 2012 Cecafa Tusker Senior Challenge Cup tournament.

In the past, 12 players have absconded after a 2010 soccer tourney in Tanzania.  After the 2011 Cecafa tournament, players also refused to return home and the trend repeated in 2013.

Source: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation