The Belize national men’s soccer team was briefly held up by gunmen in Haiti ahead of the squad’s World Cup qualifying match later this week, the country’s soccer federation said.
The Football Federation of Believe (FFB) said in a statement Monday the team was met with a “very undesirable situation in Haiti” while they were out outside of their bubble.
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“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 team said. “We are pleased to report that our Jaguars, although shaken by the terrible experience, are safely at their hotel.”
The country’s soccer body said it was in contact with FIFA and CONCACAF officials to further protect the team while they are in the country.
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“It is unfortunate that our Jaguars faced such a traumatic experience,” the team said.
Belize captain Deon McCauley told Belize media that the incident was a “moment of intense fear.”
It’s unclear who the gunmen were and what they wanted in order for them to go away, according to TMZ Sports.
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Belize is looking to make the World Cup, set for Qatar in 2022, for the first time. Belize plays Haiti on Thursday, Turks and Caicos on March 30 and then Nicaragua in June.