U.S. men’s soccer star Sergino Dest, who plays for Ajax in the Netherlands, decided to leave his club’s winter training camp in Qatar over tensions in the Middle East, the Dutch squad announced Thursday.
Dest asked to leave the camp because he “did not feel comfortable,” Ajax said in a statement. The club said it understood Dest’s request and “honored it.”
He will continue training in Amsterdam with the club’s reserves squad, according to ESPN.
“Sergino Dest asked if he could leave the training camp of Ajax in Qatar,” Ajax’s statement read. “He did not feel comfortable. Ajax understands his request and has responded to it.”
Ajax is in Qatar for training and two friendlies. Qatar is the 2022 World Cup host. The country borders the Persian Gulf and sits right across the water from Iran.
Dest’s request came a day after Iran launched missile attacks on two military bases that house U.S. troops. The missile attack came in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.
Ajax flew to Qatar on a private plate Saturday, just days after the U.S. drone strike, sources told ESPN. They planned for a private flight instead of a commercial airliner because of the heightened tensions in the region. The private jet reportedly allowed them to fly over Egypt and Saudi Arabia rather than Iraq and Iran.
Dest, who has a Surinamese-American father and a Dutch mother, opted to play for the U.S. over the Netherlands last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.