The Belize men’s national team were held up by what they called ‘an uproar of insurgents with assault rifles on motorcycles’ in Haiti ahead of their 2022 World Cup qualifier, as a large group surrounded their team bus as they drove through the Caribbean nation.
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A video shows individuals on motorbikes blocking the path of the team bus, which was taking players and officials from the airport to the hotel.
Players can be heard saying ‘we have a problem now’ and urged the driver to ‘turn around’ as the group grew larger. Four armed police officers were escorting the Belize national team and they can be seen stepping in and arranging for a safe onwards journey.
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In a statement, the Belize Football Federation (FFB) confirmed the incident took place and that the players and staff were shaken up by it.
“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 in Haiti. Despite the four-man police escort, the team bus was stopped by an uproar of insurgents with assault rifles on motorcycles and police escorts were forced to negotiate with them for the team bus to continue its journey to the hotel. We are pleased to report that our Jaguars, although shaken by the terrible experience, are safely at their hotel.”
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The FFB has reached out to both FIFA and CONCACAF to help them to “do everything possible to get them to higher grounds.”
Haiti host Belize in Port-au-Prince on Thursday in the first round of World Cup qualifying for the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
Below is the video of the incident, as photos have also been released via the Belize Football Federation on their Facebook page.
VIDEO: Belize encounter ‘armed insurgents’ ahead of World Cup qualifier v. Haiti originally appeared on NBCSports.com