Eritrea, located in northeast Africa on the Red Sea coast with a population of about 3.7 million, shocked everyone earlier this month by withdrawing from qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup about a week before its opening match against tournament hosts Morocco. But it was not the first such incident.
Last year they dropped out of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. It begs the question: why would they do that? This story is intriguing and fascinating at the same time. In fact, it takes its cue fromto leave the country for good, and this fact is at the root of its current soccer woes. Eritrea is a highly militarized society and the government is a proponent of military training for all. Random arrests, torture and disappearances are part and parcel of life in the country.
Authorities also punish draft evaders by proxy, for example by imprisoning parents or spouses to force them to surrender. I have also received reports of conscripts who have been killed while trying to escape from Thayera disappear during or after soccer competitions in countries such as Botswana, Uganda and Kenya.
Moreover, in 2015, Botswana granted asylum to 10 eresHe hasn’t played for his national team since. Eritrea hasn’t played either. They were last seen in action in a friendly against Sudan in early 2020, weeks before Kovid-19 took on epic proportions.
…I feel very frustrated because there are so many players with an Eritrean background now, many playing in Europe. We could compete if we were given a chance, but when they see what is happening, will they really want to represent Eritrea? Borg, told BBC Sport Africa. It really is a Catch-22 situation for the Eritrean regime. If they allow the players to travel, the non-traveling will continue and if they don’t, their soccer will suffer. And very littleThere are reports that the ENFF plans to field a team made up of players from its diaspora in future soccer matches to minimize the threat of defections to the African continent.