Dest leaves Ajax camp in Qatar amid Iran tensions
American fullback Sergiño Dest has left AFC Ajax’s winter training camp in Qatar amid political tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Dest, 19, flew back to the Netherlands on Wednesday after telling his club he did not feel safe on the trip.
“Sergiño Dest has asked if he could leave Ajax’s training camp in Qatar,” the club said in a statement on its website. “He didn’t feel comfortable. Ajax understands his request and has responded to it.”
Dest will train with Ajax’s reserves and rejoin the team in Amsterdam in a few days.
His departure from Ajax’s camp comes on the heels of a similar decision by the U.S. men’s national team. The U.S. was scheduled to visit Qatar as part of its annual January training camp this month but has opted to stay stateside and practice in Bradenton following unrest in the Middle East.
An American drone strike killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Late Tuesday night, Iran launched 15 ballistic missiles at two military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq.
Dest is not on the U.S.’s 25-man roster for the camp, which is running from Jan. 5-25 and culminates in Los Angeles on Feb. 1 with a friendly against Costa Rica.
Ajax, which currently sits first in the Dutch Eredivisie, is scheduled to remain in Qatar for a pair of friendlies in Al Wakrah. They were scheduled to play against Belgian clubs Eupen on Thursday, then will face Club Brugge on Saturday. The Amsterdam-based side returns to league action Jan. 19 when it hosts Sparta Rotterdam.
Dest has made 24 appearances across all competitions for Ajax this season, contributing two goals and five assists. Dest was born in Holland, but has three caps for the U.S. men’s national team and made his debut for the team in September. Dest’s father was a U.S. serviceman.