Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Hosting major sports events is usually seen as a golden opportunity to showcase the country, improve the infrastructure and attract foreign visitors. Angola, which has spent an estimated $1 billion to stage this month’s African Nations Cup, seems to be an exception.
Rather perversely, the former Portuguese colony appears to be doing little to help foreign visitors get in. From my own experience, Angola has not eased its byzantine visa regulations for would-be Nations Cup visitors. Accredited journalists are among those who have missed out because the promised Letter of Invitation from the organising committee — necessary to get the treasured visa — was either sent too late or went to the embassy in the wrong country.
As for visiting fans, they may as well forget it unless they started planning a long time ago. Normal visa applications can take three months to process, even if the applicant manages to satisfy all criteria (and it’s not always clear what they are). One embassy official in Berne, Switzerland, demanded a swine flu vaccination. When told that previous host nations had been more accommodating, she said proudly: “But this is Angola.”
Fans from Zambia are lucky, though – they are the only ones of the 15 visiting teams who do not need visas.