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port lies down the list of concerns after President Trump’s attempted travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries, but soccer has not emerged untouched. An MLS club is reported to have missed out on a Muslim player in part because of the ban, while Columbus Crew forward Justin Andre Burakovsky Youth Jersey Meram pulled out of the Iraq national team squad for reasons related to the ban.None of the six countries under the proposed ban are renowned soccer powers, but many immigrants from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen have used the sport to help integrate themselves into their new home. We spoke to players from each of the six countries about how the current climate has affected their lives.Hussein is a soccer hero in Somalia, an international midfielder of some standing in his home country. But the precariousness of life in Somalia prompted him to flee his homeland for eventual asylum in the US. He has just passed the one-year anniversary of his arrival in the US, and maintains hopes of US citizenship and a return to pro soccer from his base in St Louis.“When I came to the US, I was excited – very happy to be in this country: to be free and away from Somalia’s troubles. I am very appreciative. I am not playing right now but I train and hope to play. I was 23 when I arrived, an established player in Somalia, but the level is higher here so I’m still working out and hopeful of being recruited soon.“When I was in Kenya, where I first fled and awaited asylum, I thought of the US as a country that accepted everyone, welcomed everyone, regardless of race, religion and beliefs. And I still see the country this way even though there has been a minor setback recently. I still believe the US is the country for all. The first thing that came to my mind [after the travel ban was http://www.authenticcapitalshop.com/authentic-10-brett-connolly-jersey.html discussed] was my family who want one day to join me here. Will they be safe, will we be separated? That’s what I’m always worried about. All of the other people, too, who are always running away from the extremists in Somalia.Sa’ad Hussein during his playing days in Somalia. Photograph: PR“Al-Shabaab arrested me and then tortured me for listening to music on my phone. They lashed me 38 times. The public lashing I was given happened a month before a World Cup qualifier I played in against Ethiopia. I played for my country many times, the first time when I was 17. I played club football for the local club Elman FC. When the lashing happened, I was already in a camp with the national team but I left for a weekend in my hometown. The Somali football federation got treatment for me in Djibouti where we played the match.“Later, I decided to take part in a documentary about the situation in Somalia and talk about my story. That’s why I left for Kenya. Now that the movie [Men in the Arena] is coming out, I am worried about my family’s safety. That’s the whole reason I am here. Because if I was in Somalia and Al-Shabaab saw that documentary, they would kill me and my family. In the meantime, I’m still worried about my family.”Opportunity brought Eldrasi to the United States after a long playing career in the Libyan Authentic Rams Youth Jersey Premier League. He left his homeland shortly before the fall of the Gaddafi regime, later gained green-card status in the US and currently works to get his wife and two sons out of his home city of Benghazi. He coaches the next generation of youth soccer in the Austin area.“I came to the United States in 2011 before the war broke out. I came like anyone. I have a dream. I want to study English. I want to open an academy because I love soccer. When my playing career was over, I decided to come here, finish my education, and pursue my passion. It has not been easy. I got a work permit after four years, then a green card after five. I’ve struggled. I’m still studying, I work as a distributor, and I still play amateur football. I also coach, mostly American and Latino kids.“I was a professional for 16 years in Libya. When I was 18 I started in an academy in Benghazi, the professional club Al-Tahaddi. I also played for other clubs in the Libyan league, including Al Ahli in Tripoli and Al-Nasr, also in Benghazi. I played against Gaddafi’s son, Al-Saadi, many times when he played for Al-Ahli. I once had a chance to go to Turkey and Egypt but I couldn’t because [the Libyan FA] didn’t want me to go. That happened a lot – not just to me but to other players as well. It was really tough but now it’s more tough. It’s unsafe right now in my country. Go look at Benghazi now.“Isis caught my brother. We don’t know about his body, we don’t know if he is alive. He always talked about Isis, that they are not good people, that they are killing people, they are not Islam. I have two sons and my wife over there. Right now they are in Benghazi. They always cry about wanting to come here but it’s not in my hands. They are waiting for a visa right now. Everything is tough. My kids say, ‘Dad, what’s going on?’”Mayen was five when he arrived in the US as a refugee from Sudan. He maintains hopes of one day making it as a pro as he currently works on his game as a striker at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. Soccer http://www.officiallaramsauthentic.com/Deacon-Jones-Jersey.html is in his blood.“I fled my hometown of Khartoum in Sudan with my family in 1998. At that time, if you were Muslim you would be killed; if you were Christian you would be killed. My parents decided to flee for our freedom. We relocated to Lebanon and then in 2000 we moved to Syracuse in New York. In Sudan, my dad owned a semi-pro team named Wau Nar, so I was always around soccer from when I was really young. My dad always wanted his sons to be around what he had built from the ground up, which he had to give away when we left.“I’ve played three years of college soccer now. When I first came to the US I met a kid named Dylan, and he and his family helped me out a lot because they knew my love for the game. Rides, money, food, equipment, cleats. Over the years I grew to play with teams around the area. I’m trying to refine my skills and my touch so that when the next college season comes I can play at the best of my ability.“The ban shocked my family more than anything. The United States is a place where people like my family can come for a better life. When the ban was put in place, it almost seemed like – not a slap in the face – but rejection, almost. It’s hard to explain. Everywhere around the world everyone speaks so highly of the US, so it was confusing to see them not be the big brother but turn the cold shoulder. I’m a permanent resident now, though 95% of my family are citizens by now. Right now, say the national team for Sudan wanted to call me to play, I’m really not sure if I’d be comfortable traveling to play in case there were problems coming back.”in 2006 Shawish left southeastern Yemen behind, starting a new life with his family in upstate New York.
Posted 27 Apr 2017

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