A women’s soccer team from Tibet was denied U.S. travel visas to participate in an April tournament in Dallas.
Members of the team had their visa request denied by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, because they “have no good reason to visit the U.S.,” according to ESPN.com. Other players, who live in Nepal, had interviews in February, but have not heard a final decision.
The team is comprised of members who arrived in India and Nepal as refugees from Tibet, according to Cassie Childers, the New Jersey native who serves as the coach and executive director for Tibet Women’s Soccer.
The Dallas Cup youth tournament is a boys’ event, but the Tibetan team was invited to attend as guests, lead a parade at the Cotton Bowl, and compete against the Southern Methodist University women’s soccer team, former Cup director and current event ambassador Gordon Jago told The Dallas Morning News.
The event draws both regional and international talent, and has a tradition of boosting ethnic and cultural diversity by inviting and sponsoring certain clubs. In the past, a team from Northern Ireland featuring both Catholic and Protestant players was invited, as was an Israeli team with both Muslim and Jewish players.
Tournament organizers raised money to help the Tibetan team pay for meals and for them to visit Six Flags and attend a Dallas Mavericks game.
“We wanted them to be here,” Jago told The Dallas Morning News. “We wanted to give them a trip that they would remember for the rest of their lives.”
A State Department official said that it does not discuss the details of individual visa cases, but did say that the government’s position on Tibet has not changed under President Trump’s administration. The U.S. government recognizes Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China, and Tibet is not a region impacted by the administration’s travel ban.