Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuelan football team left barefoot after robbery

A picture published by Trujillanos on their Twitter account showing its players and staff Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The team published a picture on Twitter showing how they were left after the robbery

A Venezuelan football team was held up by armed men in the north-eastern state of Anzoategui on Monday.

First division Trujillanos were driving back after losing Sunday's away game against Monagas when their team bus was stopped and boarded by six men.

The men stripped the players and staff of their possessions, including mobile phones, wallets, shirts and shoes.

Venezuela, which is going through a deep economic crisis, has seen a sharp rise in crime over the past years.

Stripped of their shirts

The incident happened in the early hours of Monday as the team was driving from Maturin to its home town of Valera.

They were about 300km into their 1,000km journey when they were stopped by armed men in Anzoategui state.

The team's press officer told BBC Mundo that the robbers forced their way onto the bus and ordered the driver to take a back road.

They said they would detonate a hand grenade if someone alerted the authorities or if the bus was followed.

Some of the players were hit by the assailants, the team's press officer said, but no one was injured.

The armed men held the team for two and a half hours while they systematically robbed them of their mobile phones, laptops, cameras, money, watches and jewellery.

Most were also forced to strip and hand their shoes and shirts over to the robbers.

The robbers also rifled through the team's suitcases, taking more clothes, valuables and even footballs.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The robbers rifled through the suitcases for any valuables they could take

They also removed the DVD player from the bus before finally making off.

The team reported the crime at a police control post further along the road.

A number of international sports federations have expressed their concern over the high levels of insecurity in Venezuela.

Earlier this month, the International Tennis Federation moved a Davis Cup match from Venezuela to Peru due to security concerns.

In a statement [in Spanish], Venezuela's Football Federation appealed to the authorities to ensure the safety of teams which often travel large distances by road.

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