Guatemala federation president Gerardo Paiz confirmed on Friday that the country won't skip the 2019 CONCACAF Boys' Under-15 Championship in Bradenton, Fla., despite the fact that 11 players were denied visas to travel to the United States.
CONCACAF is hosting the event Aug. 4-11 at the IMG Academy campus with the participation of 42 North, Central America and Caribbean nations as well as Israel.
"They have rejected 11 visas and the boys will not be able to participate, but Guatemala will be going to the CONCACAF [championship] and we will play, we'll change the players," said Paiz via telephone. "We'll go to the tournament with other players. We asked CONCACAF to give us permission to change the list of players."
La Federación Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala, a la Opinión Pública, Medios de Comunicación y Afición INFORMA: pic.twitter.com/EFVFsTD3Rk— FEDEFUT GUATE (@fedefut_oficial) July 26, 2019
An official said the U.S. State Department could not comment because visa records are confidential under U.S. law. Paiz confirmed that the Guatemala federation does not know why the 11 youth players' documentation was denied.
"[The U.S. embassy] interviewed them, but they don't tell you anything. They only interview you and they tell you that your visa has been rejected and that's it, they don't explain much else," Paiz said . "It's happened with other national teams that [they say] yes to some and don't give the visa to others. In this particular case they denied all of them the visa, it wasn't some yes and others no."
The Guatemala federation said in a statement that nine of the players showed up for already scheduled appointments at the embassy and submitted all the requested documentation.
"The Guatemala federation will make CONCACAF and the event organizing committee aware of what has happened," the statement said. "The U15s will participate in the tournament, but definitely will not be able to use these players, all of whom were chosen by the coaching staff and who were trained specifically for this event.
"This puts us at a disadvantage by the terms of Fair Play. The federation will continue working to find a solution to this problem with our national teams."
ESPN FC U.S. Correspondent Jeff Carlisle also contributed to this report.