The Belize national football squad have been left “shaken” after having their team bus stopped by an armed gang of motorbike riders in Haiti.
The incident occurred when the squad were being taken to their hotel ahead of Belize’s World Cup qualifier.
“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,” the Belize football federation (FFB) said in their statement.
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 have FFB also expressed their “disappointment and disgust” in a firmly worded media release published on Monday. The post was also quick to point out, the “Jaguars’, although shaken by the terrible experience, are safely at their hotel.”
The incident, which has been described as “a moment of intense fear” by team captain Deon McCauley, was reportedly led by members of a criminal group named Fantom 509.
The players involved have told the Belize News 5 TV station that they now hope to leave Haiti – a country which has been placed in a state of emergency since March 18, due to the growing power of gangs willing to challenge police.
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 World Cup qualifier between the sides was supposed to take place in Port-Au-Prince this Thursday. It remains to be seen if the event will still go on, with the FFB stressing that “the safety of the team is our top priority.”
The FFB has also spoken to FIFA and CONCACAF, though neither federation has released an official statement yet.