Australian pro rider David Betts could be expelled from Italy and the Schengen Zone with a decree of urgent deportation in the next month. Unfortunately for Betts, he didn't follow the proper protocol for foreign visa holders that Italian law currently requires; Betts should have gone to the Questura (Police HQ) in his province of Treviso within eight days of his arrival in Italy to register his presence with the proper authorities who govern foreigners in Italy.
Because of a bureaucratic requirement of which Betts was unaware and inadvertently ignored, the Australian will likely have to leave Italy, which could jeopardize his cycling career. This season, Betts has a regular contract with the Tenax professional cycling team and previously had ridden as an amateur with the Bibanese cycling team, run by Giacomo Gava in Godega S.Urbano, which has welcomed many Australian riders to race in the Treviso area.
"David came back to Italy at the end of January", explained Gava, who accompanied Betts in his gruelling ten hour visit to the Treviso Questura on February 18, "but he hadn't been to Godega S.Urbano, where he had his Italian residence soon enough. First he was at the team presentation, then the training camp in Terracina (near Rome). Last Tuesday, David raced with the Tenax team at Trofeo Laigueglia and it was only last Wednesday when he could return to the Treviso area and get all his papers in order. Last Thursday, we went to City Hall in Godega for the registration, then Friday in the Treviso Questura. But they told us we were too late! I think that this is a little excessive, since David has a valid Italian visa issued in Brisbane that is good until January 2006."
It was a snafu by Betts that may cost him dearly; the 24 year-old Queenslander has now hired an immigration lawyer to prepare his case that will appeal his situation before a judge in the next week. Then Betts will have to wait another three weeks while some preliminary decision is made on his appeal, and while the appeal process is going on, Betts can't leave Italy and can also be arrested.
"I'm feeling really low right now", explained Betts. "In Europe, and especially Italy, I never thought I would be treated like this. I've been here for a while as an athlete, not as a criminal! I spent many, many hours in the Questura together with other foreigners and some of them were not the most upstanding people. Besides taking my picture, they took my digital fingerprints, just like I was a criminal. All this for a simple registration. It really burns me, but I'm not going to run away. If they throw me out, I'll probably have to stop cycling."
Courtesy of Ciclonews.it