The Tibet women's soccer team won't make a historic trip to Dallas after the team was denied travel so they could attend the Dallas Cup in April.
The women were invited to the 10-day North Texas men's tournament through Dallas Cup's charity arm -- Dallas Is Diversity. The girls paid costly visa applications fees, filled out the appropriate paperwork and flew to India for interviews.
“I just felt completely outraged as an American that this happened,” said Cassie Childers, the team’s executive director. “When this invitation came from Dallas, this was literally a fairytale, a dream come true that they would have this international platform to represent themselves.”
Childers spoke to FOX4 via Skype from Goa in western India. Some media reports suggested recent politics are at play, but Childers pushed back on that.
“This story on social media has been really politicized having to do with new immigration policies under Trump administration. But my personal feeling is that that's not it actually. I think Tibetans have always had a hard time getting visas to the United States,” Childers said.
Event organizers issued a statement saying in part: “Dallas Cup, with a 38-year history of hosting teams from over 100 countries, recognizes that arranging for international teams to travel to Dallas is many times a difficult and lengthy process. If not possible in 2017, then we hope the girls can realize their dream of visiting the North Texas area at some point in the future.”
Childers said she believes visas were denied out of fear the girls would try to defect, but she says all they really want to do is represent Tibet and a sport they love. Childers said the team got visas to travel to Germany in 2015 and none of the players attempted to defect during that trip.
“If there's anyone out there who can help, we just want to come for 10 days and show the world what Tibetan women can do,” Childers said.
Childers said at least one U.S. lawmaker is working on their behalf to get the situation resolved.