Skip to main content

Uganda youth baseball team denied U.S. visas over age discrepancies

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • It would have been the first African team to play in the Little League World Series
  • It beat a Saudi Arabia team in the Middle East and Africa tournament this month
  • Its win earned it a spot in the World Series in Pennsylvania

Washington (CNN) -- A Ugandan youth baseball team that would have been the first from Africa to play in the Little League World Series was denied visas over players' age discrepancies, the U.S. State Department said.

The Rev. John Foundation Little League team, based in the capital of Kampala, beat a Saudi Arabian team this month at the Middle East and Africa tournament in Poland. That win earned it a spot in the World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in August.

However, the U.S. Embassy in the east African nation denied the team's visa applications.

"Some of the applications included birth records which several parents admitted had been altered to make some players appear younger than they actually are," a State Department spokesman said in a statement Saturday.

The State Department consulted with the Little League association in the United States, which said there was a specific age limit to play in the World Series.

Players over the age limit were disqualified from playing and thus not eligible for visas, the State Department said.

"It is unfortunate, as we were very much looking forward to welcoming the first African team to the Little League Baseball World Series," said Stephen D. Keener, president of the League.

Little League officials will evaluate their options, Keener said in a statement.

The series is from August 18 to August 28. Sixteen teams from all over the world will take part in the race to decide the world champion.

It is unclear how the league will fill the spot occupied by Uganda.

CNN's Scott Spoerry and Faith Karimi contributed to this report.