During a brief stopover at Faa’a International Airport, three Scottish footballers have attempted to claim asylum in Tahiti.
After edging away from their minders in the departure lounge, James McArthur, Russell Martin and Jordan Rhodes dropped their mobile phones – containing traceable SIM card data handed out to them by members of their travelling party – into a dustbin, before approaching border guards and claiming asylum.
Citing the need to escape the repressive and restrictive footballing culture on offer in Scotland, the players stated that they had “given up hope” that conditions in the country might change.
“We’ve been abroad before, and thought about it,” said McArthur, “but you always hesitate, and just tell yourself that things might improve when you get back.”
“But it just keep on getting worse and worse, if anything.”
Despite a well-financed Football Association (the SFA), which oversees the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League, there has been widespread concern and international condemnation for the way the game is played in Scotland.
Martin, capped 5 times by the national side, commented, “I’ve seen some dreadful things during my time in Scottish football.
“You shouldn’t be able to get away with that nowadays.”
The country boasts over 1,000 amateur sides, with just under 50,000 people in the country playing the game on a regular basis, though this has failed to alter conditions for footballers and supporters across the country.
Tahiti, a former French protectorate, is famed for its black sand beaches, volcanic skyline and wide coral reefs. The national football side, ranked 138th in the world by FIFA, recently finished bottom of their group in the Confederations Cup.
A forlorn-looking Jordan Rhodes stated: “I just hope we can get the chance to pursue our dreams of playing proper football.
“I wish we didn’t have to take such extreme measures, but you look at the state of the game back home and realise that you have no choice.”