Vancouver International Soccer Festival backs Tibetan Women’s Team amid scrutiny over their participation

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARAMSALA, June 29: The founder of Vancouver International Soccer Festival (VISF) has cut ties with Canada Soccer and B.C. Soccer Association to support Tibetan women’s soccer team in its tournament.

Adri Hamael, the founder of Vancouver international Soccer Festival has asked the B.C. Soccer Association to cancel the Vancouver International Soccer Festival’s membership with the organization and sanctioning, according to a report on CBC News.

19576033_1572353689475702_2124315592_n“I do not see a point in staying a member. VISF’s core values are inclusion, respect and equality and by asking for a list of [the Tibetan players] while not requiring a list of all of our participants does not align with our values,” Hamael was quoted as saying in the report.

Hamael further made the revelation that Canada Soccer, through B.C. Soccer Association has made unprecedented demands to VISF organizers after it was made public that the Tibetan women’s team would take part in the tournament.

“In recent weeks Canada Soccer conducted a review of VISF tournament rules and began requesting additional documentation including, the names of the Tibetan players and the travel approval documents issued by their national soccer association,” Hamael said in the report.

The Vancouver International Soccer Festival is in its 13th year of operation and has been sanctioned by B.C. Soccer since 2009. Until now, the organizers were never asked to submit the names or travel documents of players on foreign teams to receive approval from B.C. Soccer.

Moreover, Canada Soccer, in an email sent through B.C. Soccer Association, has suggested that non-compliance with the requests would affect the tournament’s insurance status. However, the VISF has insurance through an independent provider according to Hamael.

The founder of the tournament has assured that this year’s tournament won’t be impacted by the change in status.

“All my licenses, VISF insurance, and all my venue permits are confirmed and are not affected by my decision to withdraw my membership and sanctioning,” he said.

The Vancouver International Soccer Festival will kickoff on July 7 at Empire Fields in East Vancouver. Tibetan women’s team will play against Canada in the opening match.

Canada Soccer is a member of FIFA AND the B.C. Soccer Association is the provincial arm of Canada Soccer.