Ugandan Baseball Team Strikes Out on US Visas

Posted July 29th, 2011 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The first African baseball team to qualify for the Little League World Series has been called out before ever getting a chance to take the field.

The team from Kampala, Uganda had hoped to play in the annual tournament held in the United States after winning the Middle East and Africa regional tournament earlier this month. But the U.S. State Department told Little League officials the players had been denied visas.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Friday denying the players entry to the United States was “a very difficult situation.” He said he could not discuss any individual cases but that each player was given “every consideration under the law.”

Little League officials say State Department officials told them the visas were denied because of discrepancies on the applications and called the situation unfortunate. A State Department official said there were questions about the ages of the players. Players range in age from 11 to 12.

Little League Baseball Chief Executive Stephen Keener said the organization was now reviewing its options.

The Ugandan players were from the Reverend John Foundation Little League based in Kampala. They defeated a team from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia in the regional championship played in Poland earlier this month.

The Little League World Series is played each year in the town of South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It features eight teams from the United States and eight from around the world.

This year's tournament is set to start August 18.