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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 19:27 GMT 20:27 UK
No French visas for DRC team
Patrice Chitera
BBC Sport, Kinshasa

Claude Leroy
Three players have disappeared since Leroy took over the DR Congo

The French Embassy in Kinshasa says it will no longer issue visas to players of the Democratic Republic of Congo national team, the Simbas, or its officials in the future.

This follows the disappearance of the third Congolese player in the past year during a football training tour in France.

On Friday, Toni Esame, who normally plays for the Kinshasa club Dragons, disappeared as the Simbas squad went on a tour of Paris prior to returning home later that day.

In September last year, goalkeeper Nkela Nkatu and Sasa Nseke both fled during a similar training camp in France.

French Embassy spokesman Pascal Derlican told the BBC that the French embassy continued to issue visas for the Simbas after the two goalkeepers' disappearance because the team was managed by a Frenchman, Claude Leroy.

"The disappearance of Esame means that things are not going to change, hence the decision," Derlican said.

Betrayed

The president of the country's football Federation, Suleman Meli, told the BBC he would not comment on the French decision to refuse visas because he already knew about the ban.

Meanwhile, Leroy says that he feels betrayed by Esame's actions.

"It was unbearable news for me to hear that a player has disappeared again, he's silly and he has betrayed us," the coach said.

Leroy also told the BBC that the reason for making the team train in France was because there are no good grounds to train on in DR Congo.

"The good training grounds are in France," he said.

"When the home based players go to France, and come back to play matches against other countries whose players are based in Europe, they do not tend to fear them."




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