Myanmar soccer player leaves the team and applies for asylum in Japan

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A trip to Japan for a 2022 World Cup qualifier will take much longer than expected for a member of Myanmar’s national soccer team.

Myanmar’s substitute goalkeeper, Pyae Lyan Aung, has refused to return home and is seeking asylum in Japan, according to the Associated Press. The Japanese government is reportedly considering the application, which comes amid turbulent times in Myanmar following a military coup.

Pyae Lyan Aung took part in Myanmar’s 0-0 defeat by Japan late last month and drew attention with a three-fingered salute that has become a symbol of opposition to the coup in Myanmar.

After the protest was spread on social media, the player did not appear for his team’s return flight. Now he is arguing that returning to Myanmar would “risk his life,” according to Kyodo News Agency.

In an interview with reporters, Pyae Lyan Aung reportedly said that the military had visited his home in Myanmar and that he was also worried about his teammates.

This is not the first time Myanmar’s football team has felt the effects of the coup on February 1, when the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi was overthrown and replaced by a military government. Up to 10 members of the national team refused to play in protest against the coup last month and joined widespread public opposition in the country.

Pyae Lyan Aung wants to stay in Japan. (Kyodo / via REUTERS)

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