Five players from the Eritrea women’s U20 national team have disappeared from their hotel in Jinja amid the ongoing CECAFA Women’s U20 championship. They were being accommodated at Sunset Hotel.
The tournament which kicked off on Saturday October 30 hosted by Uganda, is taking a place at the FUFA technical centre in Njeru. Six countries Uganda (Hosts), Tanzania, Burundi, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea are taking part.
CECAFA has in a statement confirmed the disappearance of the players and revealed that the matter has since been reported to police in Jinja and that investigations are ongoing.
“CECAFA, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) and the police are doing their best to locate these players,” says CECAFA in a statement.
At the time of their disappearance each country had played two games and Eritrea had lost both starting with a 1-0 loss to Tanzania in the opener and later 5-0 to Ethiopia.
There were no details on their whereabouts and the Eritrean government is yet to comment on this. It was not immediately established whether the rest of the team members will continue with the tournament.
Dozens of Eritrean athletes have refused to return home or disappeared while competing abroad over the past decade, often in a bid to claim asylum.
This is not the first time Eritrean players vanish in Uganda during or after taking place in a tournament in Uganda.
In November 2019, seven Eritrean soccer players disappeared in Uganda after participating in the Senior Challenge Cup, only two months after disappearance of five Eritrean players from their hotel during another CECAFA tournament.
In 2012, 14 members of the Eritrea soccer squad disappeared, again while playing in a CECAFA tournament.