A Bangladeshi footballer went missing during the Special Olympic World Games held from July 25 to August 4 in Los Angeles, United States in latest scandal of sportsperson defecting international meets. Joynal Abedin, a member of Bangladesh 11-a-side Unified football team, left the Games Village on the opening day and never returned, said officials of the Bangladesh contingent.
Joynal, a former BKSP student, who played first division football for Bashabo Tarun Shangha, was selected in Bangladesh Special Olympics team as one of the seven regular footballers.
In Unified Football, seven regular players are allowed with players with intellectually disability in the same team to compete as part of a special endeavour.
Abdur Razzak, a coach of Special Olympics football team, said they usually select BKSP-based players, who are regarded as talented but not good enough to compete at national level.
Joynal, a 19-year old defender, was a common face in the Special Olympics team, having played for the side at the qualifying round of the World Unified Cup held in Thailand.
He helped Bangladesh finish runners-up in the competition to qualify for the final round, which is scheduled to be held in Chile in December this year.
Joynal then travelled to Sydney with the Unified Team in the last edition of Asia Pacific Games in 2014 when Bangladesh clinched the gold medal.
Farukul Islam, the head of 55-member Bangladesh contingent in Special Olympics, said, Joynal left the Games Village on August 25 and did not return.
‘We didn’t find him on the next day morning and we informed the matter to the Games authority and local police immediately,’ he said.
‘It’s really unfortunate for us. This was for the first time a player from Bangladesh Special Olympics contingent went missing.’
Unified team coach Poritosh Mondol said that Joynal left the village without his passport and clothes.
‘He had a bright footballer career and we did not believe initially that he can do something like this,’ he said.
The incident came as a huge morale blow for Bangladesh, who were unable to retain their gold medal in the event that they earned four years back in Athens.
It left and impact in Bangladesh’s overall medals tally as they finished the games with 18 gold medals alongside, 22 silver medals and 14 bronze medals.
This was a sharp decline in their performance as Bangladesh clinched 35 gold medals four years ago in Athens.
In Special Olympics, in team events every member of the winning side are awarded a medal.
It means Bangladesh’s failure in Unified Football costs them 11 gold medals.
‘Our total number of gold medals decreased as we failed to retain the football gold medals,’ said of head of the Bangladesh delegates Farukul.
Bangladesh Unified team finished fourth among five teams in the competition.
Bangladesh also failed to win the gold medal in the traditional football, a separate event, where they lost to United Kingdom in the final.
‘If we could win the traditional football event, we could win 14 more gold medals more.’
-With New Age input