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Mar 22, 2021

Belize Jaguars Are Held at Gunpoint upon Arrival in Haiti

On Friday, the Football Federation of Belize introduced the men’s national team which will be participating in a series of regional matches ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022.  The team arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti this morning where they are scheduled to play at the Sylvio Cator Stadium on Thursday afternoon.  Instead of receiving a warm welcome from residents, however, the team was met with jeers and snickering.  To make matters worse before they could even get to their hotel, the bus in which they were traveling was intercepted by armed bikers who descended on a police escort that was assigned to the team.  Guns were drawn and pointed towards the bus.  Needless to say the experience has traumatized the players and the fate of Thursday’s inaugural match now hangs in the balance.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A harrowing ordeal involving the Belize Jaguars upon arriving in Port-au-Prince earlier today, threatens a soccer match to be held on Thursday with Haiti’s national football team.  The first round of World Cup Qualifiers has been marred by an incident during which armed men approached a tour bus that was escorted by a small detail of law enforcement officers.  Onboard was Belize’s national selection, including Ian “Yello” Gaynair.


Ian “Yello” Gaynair

Ian “Yello” Gaynair, Defense, Belize Jaguars

“Suddenly, we were about to make a turn to go up a hill, then next thing you know, before that we had four police escort, two at the back and two at the front.  Suddenly, we saw so many motorcycles with a lot of men and they were armed.  You know, they stopped the bus and all we see, they were talking to the police them.  After that we wanted to know what was happening.  The next, they wanted us to turn back, pointing their guns at the police.  So we don’t know what to do.  And then some of us were doing some video and they pointed on the bus and said cut out the video, so we had to cut the video, pull the curtain.  Mein, all of us were really traumatized, fearing we didn’t know what would happen.  Next thing we thought they would even want to come on the bus.”


Twenty-three players, as well as their coaching staff, had just cleared customs and immigration and were en route to their hotel when they were accosted.  Haiti has been in the throes of violent protests, particularly in the capital city where two police officers were killed today.


Marlon Kuylen

Marlon Kuylen, Executive, F.F.B.

“We’ve reported our discontent to both CONCACAF and FIFA and we’ve told them in no uncertain terms that we want to get our players out of the country, however, the match commissioner is arriving tomorrow to assess the situation and decide what happens from there.”


According to Gaynair, the players have been demoralized in the wake of the frightening experience.


Ian Gaynair

“I think everybody is kinda down, ah mean, we noh even di think bout play dis game that much right now.  We just di worry bout fu we safety first, fi know that we wahn be good and if we know that we wahn be good then maybe, but ah mean.  But if not we woulda almost wahn go play di game pan wahn neutral ground or something like that.  Nobody noh even wahn leff dis hotel fi go train right now, you know.”


Marlon Kuylen

“The players, they are frazzled.  They cannot focus on playing.  We were supposed to go training, we have training times and they don‘t want to leave the hotel.  Our safety is not guaranteed and what if we win?  If we win and the crowd gets out of control again, who‘s to say that we will be safe.  So we made all this known to FIFA and hopefully they make a decision quite soon.”


The experience, nonetheless, has been an eye-opener for the team.


Ian Gaynair

“All of us were just amazed and like really shocked and surprised about how the people are living in this country.  We‘ve never seen this before, never ever.  You know, we only heard about this, I mean or maybe see it on TV or something like that but it was a living reality we saw today mein for real.  I mean this country really poor mein and the people here.  It really let us, I mean, we appreciate our own country for real.  This is a bad but still a great experience so far, you know.  All ah we just tek out fu we camera because ah everything weh just di happen round we while di bus di go, yoh know, so we di do wahn lotta video shoot and you know, tek pictures ah everything weh we di sih, yoh know, image and just sih how everybody pan di side, how everybody di try sell something.  Yoh have more sellers than buyers here, everybody, literally everybody di try sell something.”


The fate of the match will be decided upon the arrival of the match commissioner on Tuesday. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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