LONDON– Indian woman footballer Aditi Chauhan, who plays for English side West Ham United Ladies as a goalkeeper, is facing deportation as she cannot renew her visa due to rules and regulations of the Football Association (FA).
Aditi, 22, made history by becoming the first woman from the Indian national team to play in the English League four months ago but now may have to head back to India due to visa problems, The Telegraph reported on Friday.
Aditi came to Britain last year on a student visa to pursue Master’s degree in sports management from Loughborough University.
During her course, she started giving trials with clubs in the women’s leagues like Millwall Lionesses, a second division club. However, she could not join the club due to the FA rules.
According to the rules of the FA — English football’s governing body — a player on a student visa cannot join a club in the top two tiers of women’s football.
After this, she signed a one-year deal with third division team, West Ham United Ladies.
Her student visa is now expiring and the team had planned to sponsor her for a work visa.
But Aditi, however, cannot apply for a work visa through the club because West Ham are in the third tier and classed as semi-professional.
“There is nothing to do but laugh at it,” Aditi said.
“I was not allowed to play in the first or second division at first, but now I’m not allowed to play in any divisions but those. It’s just ridiculous and stupid,” she added.
She doubts if a male footballer faces any such problem.
“The men’s clubs have more money and they can afford to sponsor visas. I don’t think they have problems like this, but for women footballers, it’s just a bit more difficult. I’ve never heard of a male footballer in my situation,” she noted.