The Belize national soccer team was briefly held at gunpoint on Monday after it had arrived in Haiti for its World Cup qualifier.
The team, which had a four-man police escort, was on a bus traveling from the airport to its hotel when it was stopped by armed men on motorbikes. A video of the incident, taken from inside the team bus, has been making the rounds on social media.
Upon Belize’s 🇧🇿 arrival to Haiti 🇭🇹 for their World Cup Qualifier, their police escort was stopped by armed “insurgents”
This is the video going around on social media.
Match is set for March 25. Belize has put out an official statement. pic.twitter.com/B3Z0gTfW16
— Nico Cantor (@Nicocantor1) March 23, 2021
The team's police escort was able to negotiate with the armed men and the bus was eventually allowed to continue on.
Haiti has been in a state of emergency since March 18 and is currently experiencing intense political and economical turmoil ahead of several elections in the coming months, including a constitutional referendum.
Belize federation condemns incident
Belize's soccer federation (FFB) released a statement on Monday condemning the incident, and communicated that the team is shaken but unharmed.
Belize's federation releases a statement after the national team ran into "an unfortunate incident" upon arriving in Haiti for Wednesday's World Cup qualification match. pic.twitter.com/LkGlSDSngT
— Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) March 22, 2021
"The Football Federation of Belize takes this time to express its disappointment and disgust at an unfortunate incident faced by the Jaguars as the team was headed from the airport to the hotel this morning in Haiti," the FFB said in the statement.
"We take this opportunity to thank the Jaguars for their bravery and inform their families that the safety of our team is our top priority. We are currently in contact with respective authorities from FIFA and Concacaf and are doing everything possible to get them to safer grounds. It is unfortunate that our Jaguars faced such a traumatic experience."
A message from co-captain Deon McCauley was also included in the statement.
"I am happy everyone is safe and I commend you guys for being brave. It was a moment of intense fear. Let's continue to stick together and please make the best decisions when it comes to the team."
Belize is scheduled to play its first World Cup qualifier against Haiti on Thursday in Port-Au-Prince.
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