A Tunisian fourth-division football club has had to pull down the shutters after more than 30 of its players left for Europe.
Speaking in April, the club's president, Jamil Meftahi, told AFP that no fewer than 32 of its players had emigrated illegally to Europe over the past three years.
Meftahi blamed the exodus on ‘a lack of financial resources’.
He added: ‘We can't buy equipment, jerseys and sports shoes’ and the players ‘don't get financial subsidies’.
According to the official, most of the players, who are aged between 17 and 22, have travelled 'either by sea or by going to Serbia’ a country Tunisians did not need visas to enter until recently, before then ‘illegally crossing the borders to other countries’.
Ghardimaou is a border town close to Algeria in the north-west of the country.
It depends heavily on agriculture.
Illegal emigration has become a major issue for Tunisian sport in recent years.
In mid-February, top-flight club Avenir Sportif de Rejiche announced that its substitute goalkeeper, Khalil Zaouli, had emigrated illegally to Italy because of ‘the club's financial difficulties’.
Tunisia is less than 100 miles by boat from the Italian island of Lampedusa.
More than 14,000 migrants of various nationalities have landed in Italy since the beginning of 2023, according to the Italian Interior Ministry.
This is a big increase on last year’s figures, which saw just over 5,300 arrive in the same period.