Uganda To Investigate Ages Of Little League Players, Promises Possible Punishment
Turns out the "discrepancies" that prevented a Ugandan youth baseball team from entering the United States and becoming the first African squad to compete in the Little League World Series, wasn't such bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo after all.
The Ugandan government is currently investigating whether members of the Rev. John Foundation team from Kampala were denied visas for lying about their ages. If found guilty, the government plans to act accordingly and punish those responsible while issuing an apology to the United States.
Per Godfrey Mabirizi, the vice chairman of Uganda's National Council of Sports:
"What happened shames our country and we should not encourage it. We are going to investigate and punish those involved. Unless USA has other reasons for denying the players visas, but if it is because of lying age or disorganized documents then it is unfortunate."
A statement from a State Department spokesperson in Washington confirmed that seven player applications included birth records which several parents admitted had been altered to imply the athletes were younger than they actually are. Those overage players were thus deemed ineligible to compete in the World Series, and subsequently denied visas on that basis.
Mabirizi says that in the future, the council will verify players' ages and documents before they leave.
What began as a feel-good, inspirational story highlighting baseball's international growth — later thought to be marred by a technicality — has now turned into one giant headache, as Little League officials must now meet and determine how to proceed with the series. The organization has indicated it would prefer to maintain a 16-team field.
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