January 9, 2020 / 11:21 AM / 12 days ago

U.S international uncomfortable in Qatar and leaves training camp

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - U.S. international Sergino Dest has left Ajax Amsterdam’s training camp in Qatar and returned to the Netherlands over safety concerns as political tension in the region remained high, the club said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group H - Ajax Amsterdam v Chelsea - Johan Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands - October 23, 2019 Ajax's Sergino Dest Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

The decision of Dutch-born Dest follows a similar move by the U.S national team to cancel a planned training camp in Qatar following an American air strike at Baghdad airport last week that killed a top Iranian general and has caused unrest in the Middle East.

“Dest asked if he could leave the training camp in Qatar,” said Ajax on their website (ajax.nl).

“He did not feel comfortable. Ajax understand his request and he has flown home where he will train with the reserves.”

The 19-year-old fullback opted last October to play for the United States rather than the Netherlands.

The teenager has an American father and has three caps for the U.S.

An American air strike in Baghdad last Friday killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and architect of its growing military influence in the Middle East.

Iran retaliated on Wednesday by firing missiles at military facilities housing U.S. troops in Iraq.

U.S. President Donald Trump said no Americans were hurt, soothing fears that Soleimani’s death and the Iranian response could spark a wider conflict in the Middle East.

Qatar will host the World Cup in 2022 and have several European clubs, including Bayern Munich, Club Brugge, PSV Eindhoven, Salzburg and Zenit St Petersburg, using their facilities this month for winter training camps.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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