PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Tues. Mar. 23, 2021, Reuters: Belize’s football federation (FFB) has expressed “disappointment and disgust” after the bus ferrying the squad to their hotel in Haiti was stopped by an armed gang on motorcycles.
The incident occurred shortly after the squad had arrived in the Caribbean nation to play a 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 FFB said in a statement.
“We are pleased to report that our ‘Jaguars’, although shaken by the terrible experience, are safely at their hotel.”
The federation posted a picture on its Facebook page of the incident, showing the gang wearing masks and carrying weapons.
Team captain Deon McCauley described the incident as “a moment of intense fear” and other members of the squad told Belize News 5 TV station they hoped to get out of Haiti as soon as possible.
The FFB said it had contacted football’s governing body FIFA and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) about getting the players to a safer environment.
CONCACAF did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
The qualifier, slated for Thursday, is part of the first round of CONCACAF games for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Belize have never qualified for the World Cup finals while Haiti qualified only once, in 1974.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie in London; Editing by Peter Rutherford )