WATFORD midfielder Al Bangura’s appeal against deportation to Sierra Leone has been backed by the world representative organisation for professional players.
The 19-year-old is contesting the decision and has been supporte
d by Stephane Burchkalter, secretary general of FIFpro’s African division. He told Watford’s website: “Football must play its part as an engine of integration and we back their appeal.
“We expect the government to favour the spirit of the law.”
Bangura, whose case has been supported by local MP Claire Ward, faces deportation to Sierra Leone after losing his case to stay in the UK at an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal hearing on Tuesday.
The teenager, who became a father earlier this month, will launch an immediate appeal against the decision, with the full support of his club.
He arrived in Britain four years ago, escaping civil war in his homeland, and was given limited discretionary leave to stay.
But now the Home Office will initiate moves to remove him from the country.
Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It is an incredible decision, absolutely ludicrous.
“We hear about things all the time where we vote to elect people to power and then we presume and hope that they will put civil servants in place who will do a good job.
“I hope common sense does prevail. We have the opportunity to appeal; we have 10 days to do that, which takes us up to Christmas. We will be appealing because we think it is a ridiculous decision.
“We hope to get other people in involved. The Home Secretary can get involved now. We are speaking to people through the club.
“We thought we could put our faith in British justice but obviously not. We have to keep trying everything we can to make sure he stays.
“To escape civil war twice and avoid what he has avoided in his life, we cannot imagine what this boy has gone through in his short life and then somebody somewhere thinks it is a good idea to send him back to all of that.”
Hornets chairman Graham Simpson added: “This is a young man who pays his taxes, came over here as a 15-year-old under appalling circumstances from Sierra Leone, has made a life for himself, done something very special and has the talent as well.
“That’s the saddest thing of all. If he goes back there he will probably not be able to come back, and if he doesn’t come back he will never have the opportunity to do what he’s doing so well as a young footballer. That’s a tragedy.”
Bangura fears a return to his homeland, where he could be under threat from the Soko tribe, formerly led by his late father.
Club legal representative Chris Pelentrides insisted there was a compelling case for Bangura to be allowed to stay.
“His compassionate circumstances clearly warrant his continued stay in the United Kingdom,” he said.
“He has built up his life, having established great ties here, including a family life with his partner and a profession.”
Bangura has made over 50 appearances, scoring one goal, since joining the club in April 2005. — BBC Sport.