200 Soccer Fans Seek Asylum in Brazil

1K more Ghanians expected to apply
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2014 11:25 PM CDT
200 Soccer Fans Seek Asylum in Brazil
Fans of Ghana listen to the national anthem before the group G World Cup soccer match between Portugal and Ghana at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Ghana's World Cup team went home without having won any of its three games in Brazil (though it did tie Germany), but a few hundred of its fans want to stay behind permanently. Brazilian authorities say 200 Ghanians who entered the country on tourist visas for the tournament have applied for asylum, saying they are Muslims fleeing religious conflict. Authorities say they expect another 1,000 Ghanians to seek asylum before the end of the conflict, reports the BBC, which notes that the fans filed their claims in a prosperous southern city more than 1,000 miles from where the Ghanian team played.

The fans will be allowed to work and travel in the country while their applications are considered, and a Justice Ministry official says the fact that the fans entered the country on tourist visas won't be held against them. "Asylum cannot be requested at a Brazilian embassy. The asylum seeker must be in the country to apply," he explains. Some officials sound suspicious of the Ghanians' motives—the area where they applied is "a magnet for foreign workers" that is now "overcrowded," they say—but local Catholic churches have offered their support, giving the fans shelter and helping them file their asylum claims, AllSports reports. (More Ghana stories.)

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