Syrian Illegal Migrants Disguised Themselves as Volleyball Team

ATHENS, GREECE - JUNE 15: Passengers of an international flight wear protective face masks as they arrive at Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Athens on June 15, 2020 in Athens, Greece. The country removed most restrictions on travel from EU countries today in an effort to jumpstart its tourist season. …
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

A group of Syrian illegal immigrants were arrested at an airport in Athens over the weekend after pretending to be a volleyball team with the goal of illegally entering Austria.

The nine men attempted to board a flight from Athens to Vienna and pretended to be volleyball team athletes dressed in similar tracksuits.

According to a report from the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, the nine men were also found in possession of fake Romanian passports, and were arrested after they came under suspicion from security officers working at the airport.

Giorgos Kalliakmanis, President of the Association of Police Officers of South-East Attica, commented on the case, saying: “Airport police are thrown into battle every day, preventing the entry and exit of operations that use forged or tampered documents.”

Illegal immigration to Europe or within Europe using air travel is much less common than crossing borders by land or by sea.

According to the Civil Liberties Union for Europe, migrants are less likely to travel by air due to a European Union directive that can see airlines fined anywhere between €3,000 and €500,000 for transporting passengers without authentic and valid travel documents.

Migrants travelling with forged or fake documents has been a major issue in Europe for years as well.

Last August, reports revealed that people-smugglers in Turkey were offering forged passports and visas for as much as €9,000 for European Union member-state and  €11,000 for the United Kingdom, using social media websites to advertise. Smugglers also sold drivers’ licences and other forms of identification.

Many other migrants either discard their travel documents or do not bring them at all to make it harder to deport them. In Germany, it was revealed that in 2020 over half of the migrants who arrived did not have any identification documents.

Free Democrat (FDP) politician Linda Teuteberg, who requested the information from the German Federal Interior Ministry, said: “The fact that one in two first-time applicants cannot be identified on the basis of appropriate documents is a major challenge for our asylum system.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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