Football: Five AS Roma stars denied entry to Indonesia

It was not immediately clear why the players were stopped from entering the country.
It was not immediately clear why the players were stopped from entering the country.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (REUTERS/AFP) - Indonesian football fans were thrilled to see Italian side AS Roma touch down in Jakarta on Friday evening as part of their pre-season tour.

Indonesian immigration officials? Not so much.

After arriving in Jakarta for the first time in club history ahead of their "AS Roma Indonesia Day 2015" programme, officials informed the Serie A side that five players would not be able to enter the country.

Football is hugely popular in Indonesia and crowds of rowdy fans gathered at the airport to catch a glimpse of the European stars.

Seydou Doumbia, Gervinho, Victor Ibarbo, Adem Ljajic and Antonio Sanabria were denied entry and instead of joining their team mates for Saturday's events at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, they were put on planes bound for Rome.

The five footballers were turned away for not possessing valid visas, an Indonesian immigration official told AFP.

The players were unable to obtain a visa on arrival because their passports were issued by countries which did not have such an arrangement with Indonesia, the official added.

Doumbia and Gervinho are from the Ivory Coast, Ibarbo is Colombian, Sanabria is from Paraguay and Ljajic comes from Serbia.

"The five players were obliged to have visas, but they didn't have them," said Heriyanto, the directorate general of immigration spokesman.

Roma are on the final leg of their pre-season tour after taking part in the International Champions Cup tournament in Australia, where they beat Real Madrid in a shootout and lost to Manchester City in the same manner.

Roma chief executive Italo Zanzi was frustrated that the players were unable to take part in the events. He said: "The reception that we received at the airport, along the streets and at the hotel was sincerely the best reception that I have seen anywhere.

"We had an unfortunate situation at the airport that was very frustrating as five of our players were not allowed in the country. They are now on their way back to Rome.

"It's real disappointment for us, given that we've made a substantial effort to be here.

"It's not a positive thing for the players, for the club - who did everything that we were asked to do - but, most importantly, for the Indonesian fans because they are why we are here."