Friday, July 8, 2016

Visa Woes Force Uganda to Drop from World Cup

By Quidditch Post Staff

In a story reverberating throughout the worldwide quidditch community, the Quidditch World Cup Organizing Committee has officially announced on July 8 that due to an inability to obtain visas to travel to Germany, Uganda has dropped from the tournament slated to begin in just over two weeks.

Highlights of Ugandan Quidditch from 2013-14. | Video Courtesy of Angus Barry

The IQA sensed that visas would provide an obstacle for Team Uganda from the very beginning.

“We always knew that Visa restrictions were going to be an uphill battle,” said Tournament Director Matthew Guenzel.

Although the IQA long-suspected there could be trouble, the extent of the problems first became apparent on July 4 after two players went for their visa interviews. The remainder went the following day and the extent of the problem became clearer. To travel to Germany a Ugandan must show that they are financially stable. Typically this takes the form of bank statements from individual accounts; however, many rural Ugandans - like those affiliated with the Ugandan team - don’t have the necessary access to the financial system. Although the IQA hoped that proof of the substantial contributions made by the community - 10,242 Euros in all - would be sufficient, the visa interviews quickly made it clear that those affiliated with the team did not possess the proper paperwork.  

Guenzel and John Ssentamu, leader of quidditch in Uganda, met on Thursday, July 7 to discuss Uganda’s ability to attend. It was at this meeting that the decision was formally made that Uganda would drop. The World Cup Organizing Committee subsequently met and it was at these meetings that the group decided that half of the funds (5,141 euros) raised by the Team Uganda Indiegogo campaign will be set aside for the development of Quidditch Uganda, while the remainder will be placed into an emergency fund for teams in danger of dropping out of World Cup based on lack of money. All perks earned under the Indiegogo will still be delivered. Should the emergency fund not be used fully, that money will go also be dedicated to quidditch in Uganda.

All teams attending received an email regarding use of the emergency fund. To avail themselves of the funds, teams have been instructed to email an application with the amount of funding required and the details of their need. However, given that World Cup is just 15 days away, the IQA does not anticipate much use of this fund.

Given that the vast majority of teams have now paid their team fees, player fees, and booked accommodation, I think its unlikely many teams will be drawing on that fund,” said Guenzel. “But we wanted to have the option there, to reflect the original intention of the campaign.”

The fate of the Uganda aspect of the fund is far more nebulous. At the moment, the money is being kept in the IQA’s bank account while the IQA works with Ssentamu to figure out the use of funds; however, the focus is on investment and growth. Although logistics have not been finalized, Guenzel stated that one of the goals was to ensure that Uganda quidditch had the same resources as many other countries.

For what it’s worth, ensuring teams in Uganda have equipment to internationally recognised standards is one of the priorities of our investment in Quidditch Uganda,” he said.

Although the possibility of Uganda dropping was on the World Cup Organizing Team’s mind, contingency plans were not fully developed.

“We had spoke about it in brief,” said Guenzel. “But the full plans were only made in the past few days.”

The IQA was aware that disclosing the full difficulties a Uganda team might have in attending could harm fundraising. Guenzel confirmed that the IQA was aware of the possibility that Team Uganda might not be able to attend; however, they were also aware that it might be difficult to fundraise if this information was disclosed.

Overall though, Guenzel was pleased with how the fundraising went. “We’re really happy with how the campaign went,” he said. “It proves the community can and will support exceptional cases like Uganda’s.”

Although the IQA briefly considered refunding donors, they ultimately decided that dedicating the money to quidditch in Uganda was more in line with the intent of the campaign, and that refunding donors would be dispiriting end to the fundraising effort.

“We decided pretty early on that some of the money should go towards supporting Quidditch Uganda,” Guenzel said. “We thought refunds would be a sad way to end what has been an extremely moving and passionate campaign.”

The risk that Uganda would not attend was known even when they were awarded the IQA Expansion Fund, a matching grant of up to 1,500 Euros from the IQA.

Guenzel summarized the IQA’s thoughts: “We felt we had a duty to Quidditch Uganda and the incredible work they do to make every effort possible to get them to Frankfurt.”

For those disheartened by the news, Guenzel emphasized: “The Organising Team did everything we could to ensure the success of Team Uganda.”

Guenzel further hopes that the failure to get Uganda to Germany can be a learning experience for all involved.

“In our post-tournament report, we intend on making recommendations to ensure the success of national teams from developing nations, which will hopefully prevent this kind of situation from occurring again,” he said.

The Ugandan team received international press to support their effort from their own African shores to the Guardian’s article in May. For their efforts, the Indiegogo actually hit 672 percent of total, which is nearly unheard compared to most other teams. Other teams’ Indiegogos have had limited success ranging all over the board: Canada hit 134 percent of its total, while Ireland managed 82 percent. South Korea’s has eight days left and has stalled at 17 percent in stark contrast.

Uganda would have been in Pool 1 and in their absence the pool will continue as a four team pool, now comprising only European teams (Slovenia, Netherlands, France, and Italy). This makes Group A the only group without at least one non-European team, after a guarantee made before the draw process that each pool was “to have at least one (1) non-European based team, which may require “re-draws” of a Pod based on team selection.”  IQA has confirmed on its Facebook post that there will not be a “re-draw” of the pools.

Uganda was also slated to face South Korea in an exposition match. This match will still take place, with a new opponent in the works for South Korea to be named at a later date.

Update July 8, 7:30 EDT The IQA has reversed its stance on the refund.


  1. I believe someone should be held accountable for this stuff up. I find it completely appalling that the IQA knew of the issues that Team Uganda would face but continued to ask for money without disclosing that information publicly to those they were asking for it from. That dishonesty is not acceptable, even if they did it with best intent. You can't take that much money under false pretenses. And to then decide to use the money that people have donated for one goal, for another purpose is also not okay. It's not the IQA's decision to make. Not at €10,000. They should at least ask the backers for permission or give them the option of refund. After all, what is the point of a jersey for a team that never played? That donation may have gone to a team's fundraiser that did have to travel to attend.
    Which brings me to Peru. How could the IQA justify giving AT LEAST half of this money to Uganda to not play while they decided to not share the fund with Peru when they recommitted to the tournament. This entire process has been poorly run and unprofessional, and would not be acceptable by a larger sporting body, how are we standing by while the IQA abuses people's trust and takes their money.

    1. I want to state that my above comment has nothing against Uganda and I am sympathetic to their cause, but rather the actions of the IQA.