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Behrami wants no part in Swiss asylum debate

Written by: Staff
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BAD BERTRICH, Germany, June 17 (Reuters) Swiss player Valon Behrami has cried foul after a political party used his image in a debate over his country's asylum laws.

The left-of-centre Social Democratic Party sent out a mass e-mail this week arguing against a proposed tightening of Switzerland's asylum laws and including a photo of Behrami in his national team strip.

Behrami, 21, came to Switzerland from Kosovo with his family at the age of four and is frequently cited as an example of how well immigrants and second-generation Swiss have been integrated into the national side. He is part of the Swiss World Cup squad.

The Social Democratic Party had not got clearance from Behrami or the Swiss football association, which only allows sponsors to advertise using the players' photos.

''We heard about the campaign and spoke to Valon Behrami who was unhappy about the use of his image,'' Switzerland team spokesman Pierre Benoit said today.

Following a call from the Swiss FA's marketing department, the party agreed to drop Behrami from its campaign, he added.

Switzerland is due to hold a national referendum on proposed amendments to the country's asylum laws in September.

The proposals, which have been criticised by human rights organisation Amnesty International, would cut benefit payments to failed asylum applicants and refuse hearings to applicants who arrive in Switzerland without identification papers.

Behrami has other worries after aggravating a groin strain that could rule him out of World Cup action. The Swiss plan to make a decision on the Lazio player's fitness early next week.

REUTERS PDS PM2133

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