Conflicts & War

Several players exit Myanmar soccer team in protest of coup

Bangkok, May 18 (EFE).- Several players of Myanmar’s national soccer team have decided not to respond to a call to play the qualifying matches for the 2022 Qatar World Cup in protest of the military coup carried out in early February, local broadcaster DVB reported.

The Myanmar team, ranked fourth in its qualifying group, is slated to face Japan on May 28 and was scheduled to travel to there on May 15.

However, the absence of several players, some of whom support the ongoing protests against the military junta, has forced it to delay its plans.

Defender Zaw Min Tun and star striker Kyaw Ko Ko are among those who have left the team while others continue to evaluate their decision, according to DVB.

Under FIFA rules, players who refuse to play for their national team can be punished with suspension.

Last month, top Myanmar swimmer Win Htet Oo also announced his decision not to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in protest of the military takeover.

In a Facebook post announcing his decision, the 26-year-old swimmer said that he “shall not march in the (opening ceremony’s) Parade of Nations under a flag steeped in my people’s blood.”

At least 802 people have been killed as a result of a brutal crackdown by security forces against peaceful anti-coup protests while more than 5,200 people have been detained by the military, according to figures from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

Despite violence and intimidation by the authorities, thousands of people continue to challenge the power of the military junta throughout the country through a popular civil disobedience movement.

The military, headed by General Min Aung Hlaing, has justified the coup alleging fraud in elections held in November, in which ousted leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party repeated its resounding victory of 2015, with international observers giving a clean chit to the polls. EFE


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