The Native American descendants of the people who first invented the sport of lacrosse over 1,000 years ago have been denied entry to the UK because they refuse to travel under U.S. or Canadian passports.
According to the Guardian, the Iroquois lacrosse team -- which represents the Six Nations of Oneida, Seneca, Mohawk, Tuscarora, Cayuga and Onondaga -- have travelled using handwritten Iroquois passports for nigh on 30 years.
Despite tough new security requirements for international passports, the team received special dispensation from the U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon to travel to the UK using these passports for this month's lacrosse world cup.
Sadly, barring a last minute change of mind by British authorities, it seems unlikely the world-ranked number 4 team Iroquois will arrive in time for the opening game of the championship in Manchester tonight against host nation England.
Associated Press quote a British diplomat as saying: "We would be pleased to welcome the Iroquois national lacrosse team but like all those seeking entry to the UK they must present documents that enable us to complete our immigration and other checks."
Team lawyer Tonya Gonnella Frichner said: "They're telling us: 'Go get U.S. passports or Canadian passports ... It's pretty devastating."
And there lies the rub: the Iroquois do not recognise either the U.S. or Canadian governments and regard themselves as a sovereign nation.
U.S. Congressman Dan Maffei has pleaded with the UK Border Agency to reconsider its decision.
"If the British or any national entity seeks to sever this Iroquois team from their own national identity, then they're asking them to not be the athletes that they are." It would be an "international embarrassment" if they were not allowed to compete, he added.