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Afghan National Soccer Team Disbands After Asylum Bid

20 April 2004 -- Afghanistan will temporarily disband its national soccer team after nine players disappeared from the team's training camp in Italy last week and sought asylum.

Halim Kohistani, the head of Afghanistan's soccer federation, told Reuters the players who left the camp would be punished for "damaging Afghans' honor."

Six of the players were detained in Germany where they were seeking asylum and will be sent back to Italy. Italy has promised to return any of the team members who fled back to Afghanistan.

Kohistani said the Afghan national team had been disbanded but said there were plans to bring in new players and reform the team. (Reuters)