We Love Germany: Thanks For Everything | 2006

video documentary, 18 min.

“Sri Lanka 'National Handball Team' Disappears in Germany,” reported a small blurb on CBS News. Most surprised were the people of the small village of Wittislingen in Germany, who hosted the Sri Lankan team for a local tournament. After the match the Sri Lankans disappeared and were nowhere to be found. A brief inquiry yielded that a Sri Lankan national handball team never existed, and that the rather well organized scam enabled 23 illegal immigrants to obtain European Union visas. In We Love Germany: Thanks For Everything… Jenny Vogel deals with the aftermath of the incident, as she presents the story from the point of view of the villagers of Wittislingen.



Sri Lanka 'National Handball Team' Disappears In Germany

MUNICH, Germany - They looked suspicious to begin with and doubts grew when the 23 “players” of the “Sri Lanka handball national team” disappeared from their lodging in southern Germany. The Germans thought they were hosting Sri Lanka's national team; Sri Lanka sports officials say there is no such team. Whoever they are, the Sri Lankans arrived in Germany on Thursday, played in a small tournament and lost all their games and then disappeared Monday from their hotel in Wittislingen just before they were supposed to start a tour of seven Bavarian communities. “We've informed border posts,” said a police official in nearby Dillingen, who did not want his name used. But the police are not officially looking for the 23 Sri Lankans since they have visas valid until next month. “We don't know where they are,” the police official said Wednesday. Police found a letter in English left behind in their lodgings, thanking the local club for its hospitality and saying they had left for France. “Maybe they wanted to leave a false trail,” the police official said. Authorities think the “handballers” could have dispersed around Germany looking for jobs. In Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sports Ministry secretary S. Ranugge said he had no official information because the tour was not approved by the ministry nor any official has accompanied the team. S. Ranugge said there was no registered federation for handball in Sri Lanka and therefore the tourists may have made their own travel arrangements and cannot be called Sri Lanka's national team.