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DG #21 preview: the Chagos Islands

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the  inhabitants of the Chagos Islands were forcibly evicted by the UK government so the US could set up a military base. The world’s largest Chagossian community today is in Crawley, near Gatwick, where they continue to fight for the right to return to their islands.

For issue #21 of Delayed Gratification, our associate editor Matthew Lee spent time with Chagossians to tell the remarkable story of an exiled people living in limbo in Britain. On 20th December, Matthew attended a football match in Sutton Coldfield between the Chagos Islands and Panjab FC, a team representing a 19th century Sikh empire. Neither team is officially recognised by Fifa so they’re restricted to friendlies against other unaffiliated nations; last year the Chagos Islands played a couple of games against the Principality of Sealand, and this summer the Crawley boys will travel to Abkhazia for the ConIFA World Football Cup for unaffiliated nations.

This game was pretty even for about 15 minutes, but the Panjab team soon took control and ended up winning 4-1. Here are some pictures Matthew took on the day.

To find out more about the ongoing story of the Chagos Islands, keep an eye out for issue #21 of Delayed Gratification. Subscribers can look forward to receiving it on their doormats in mid-March. If you haven’t subscribed yet, there’s still time to sign up and start your subscription on issue #21. We’ll give you a 10 percent discount if you use promotion code ‘SLOWNEWSDAY’ when you sign up here.


The Chagossian team arrives from Crawley with two Belgian filmmakers, who are working on a documentary about the team


Chagossian supporters raise a Chagos Refugee Group flag. The CRG, formed in the 1980s in Mauritius, continues to campaign for the right to return.


Sabrina Jean, secretary of the Chagos Refugee Group in the UK and the person running the football team, watches the game from the sidelines


Most of the Chagossian players are young men from Crawley, West Sussex. Hundreds of Chagossians left Mauritius and the Seychelles to settle in the UK between 2002 and 2004. Most of the players arrived in the UK as children.


The Chagos Islands’ fans. There was limited space on the bus.


The Chagos Islands’ coach Gino Augustin and the team substitutes observe the action.

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