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(BBC SPORT) The Belize Football Federation has expressed its “disappointment and disgust” after a bus taking the national team to their hotel in Haiti was held up by an armed gang.
The incident occurred on Monday shortly after the squad had arrived in the country for a 2022 World Cup qualifier. Police escorting the team were forced to negotiate with the gang to allow the bus to proceed to the hotel.
Captain Deon McCauley described the incident as “a moment of intense fear”. “I am happy everyone is safe and I commend you guys for being brave,” he added.
“Let’s continue to stick together and please make the best decisions when it comes to the team.” An image posted on the Federation’s (FFB) Facebook page showed the gang on motorbikes, wearing masks and carrying weapons.
In a statement, the FFB said: “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.” The FFB added the safety of the team was its “top priority” and had contacted Fifa and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) over moving them to a safer environment.
The team is scheduled to play Haiti in their opening World Cup qualifier in Port-au-Prince on Thursday. Fifa has been contacted by the BBC for comment.