India miss the Fistball World Championship after visa refusal – Belgium to step in

Jul 20, 2023

MANNHEIM. The German Consulate General in Mumbai denies the Indian national team the visa for participation in the Fistball World Championships in Mannheim. The team from Belgium will now take part in the title fights at short notice as the first moving up team as the 16th team.

The Indian delegation has submitted the visa applications on May 7, 2023. All players and officials had travelled to Mumbai for the mandatory face-to-face interviews. Flights to Germany and accommodation in Mannheim had been booked and already paid for. Between July 12 and July 14, the visa refusals were issued by the consulate. The given reasons were that the players had not provided the necessary proof that they were in a position to have sufficient funds for the duration of the planned stay or for their return to India. Furthermore, it was assumed that the information provided was not credible and that there were reasonable doubts about their intention to return. This assessment has not changed by a further explanation / assumption of costs by the International Fistball Association (IFA), the national federation Fistball Germany and the World Championship hosting club based in Mannheim.

Personal efforts of the IFA president unsuccessful

“The consulate in Mumbai with which I personally was in contact several times this week did not see itself in a position to grant our Indian Fistball friends the necessary visas in time before the departure planned for tomorrow, Friday 21 July 4 AM,” said a visibly disappointed IFA President Jörn Verleger.

“We regret this very much and can very well understand the great disappointment of our young Fistball players from India. The players do not come from privileged backgrounds and have managed with great commitment to qualify for this World Championship and to finance the trip.” For India, it would have been the second participation with a national team in a fistball World Cup after the U18 World Championship in Nuremberg. “While I understand that there is a greater awareness after the Special Olympics and the numerous participants “lost” there. But we very much regret that it was not possible to find a better solution here. After all, this also thwarts efforts to hold major sporting events and Olympic and Paralympic Games in Germany. I don’t understand that,” continued Verleger.

Team Belgium act as a stand-in for the World Championship

“The national team of Belgium has been informed by us that they can take the starting place of India as the first substitute team from Europe,” said IFA Secretary General Christoph Oberlehner about the further procedure. Belgium has accepted the starting right and will face USA, Serbia and Denmark in the preliminary round group D. “We are grateful to the players from Belgium for this flexibility and are now looking forward to an outstanding World Championship, which can now start as planned with 16 teams.”

Photo: IFA president Jörn Verleger
Photocredit: Moritz Kaufmann / IFA