China forces Tibetan –Kiwi teen out of World Youth Cup

Talented Northland teen Nyima Tsering-Young. Image: John Stone – Northern Advocate.

DHARAMSALA, 29 June: In yet another clear case of discrimination and harassment, a 14-year-old Kiwi-born footballer’s dream to play in the prestigious Gothia Cup in China disappeared into the thin air after China has delayed his visa process because of his Tibetan origin.

Nyima Tsering-Young, a talented Northland teen has been withdrawn from the New Zealand team over uncertainty around his visa from the tournament host, China, reports the New Zealand Herald.

The “stand-out” player who was picked to play in the upcoming tournament – widely referred to as the “Youth World Cup” – by a private football academy but the academy had to withdraw him from the team because of ongoing delays and the high possibility his visa may be declined by China.

Megan Tsering-Young, the mother of the teen has said that the academy had no choice given the time pressures but firmly believes her son had been discriminated because of his ethnicity.

“This sort of decision is about racism,” she was quoted as saying in the report.

Barring Nyima, the Chinese consulate has processed his other team member’s visas promptly.

“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,” she concluded.

“I just don’t think anyone should ever be discriminated against for their ethnicity and that is what has happened here.”

Tsering-Young, the report said has sent her son’s visa application to visit China early because her family had faced delays and declined visas in the past.

The family has previously faced the same issue of uncertainty over visa while trying to visit Nyima’s ailing grandmother in Tibet. Though they were lucky enough to get a visa and meet their grandmother months before she passed away, their visa application to visit relatives for a holiday in Tibet later was declined.

The couple, who first met in India and had lived in New Zealand for 20 years were disappointed that they have to yet again face the discrimination because of their heritage.

“I just don’t think anyone should ever be discriminated against for their ethnicity and that is what has happened here.”

Before the academy has reluctantly withdrawn Nyima from the team because of the uncertainty around his visa, the Chinese authorities have said that his visa might be considered if he wrote a letter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?” Tsering-Young concluded.

Gothia Cup is the largest international youth football tournament in the world held annually since 1975. The tournament was dubbed “World Youth Cup” by FIFA in 2007.

On paper, the tournament says its vision is “to create a meeting place for the youths of the world no matter religion, colour or nationality”.

The Chinese Consulate has not responded to requests for comment.

The slogan of the soon to be held tournament in China over 14-20 July has adopted “Different Colours, Same World” as its slogan which completely contradicts with China’s actions.

A 53-year-old Tibetan American who arrived at Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport from New York City via New Delhi on Saturday last week was stopped by the immigration officials and later deported to the US after hours of questioning at the airport at China’s behest.

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