24 June 2011
A group of 17 leading Libyan football figures have announced their defection to the rebels opposing Muammar Ghadaffi’s rule.
They announced the defection to the BBC.
They include the nation's goalkeeper, Juma Gtat, three other national team members, and the coach of Tripoli's top club al-Ahly, Adel bin Issa.
"I am telling Col Gaddafi to leave us alone and allow us to create a free Libya," Gtat told the BBC.
BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mark Doyle says “Sports stars matter in the battle for public opinion [and] in football-mad North Africa, the defections are clearly a propaganda blow for Col Gaddafi.”
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