Belize Football Team Briefly Held by Gunmen in Haiti
Belize will play a qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup tournament against the Caribbean team 3 days later.
Gunmen on the way to their hotel
The Football Federation of Belize told on March 22, 2021 the male national football team experienced a traumatic moment shortly after it landed in Haiti. Belize plays against Haïti for a qualifying match in the 2022 World Cup Tournament on March 25.
The team headed from the airport to the hotel when the events occurred. The bus was stopped by uproar insurgents armed with assault rifles on motorcycles. The 4 policemen who escorted the team negotiated with the assailants before the bus could safely drive everybody to the hotel.
The Jaguars, the nickname given to the central American team players, are shaken by the experience. The team co-captain Deon McCauley said it “was an moment of intense fear“.
Haiti’s national football team finished 3rd in the last Gold Concacaf edition in 2019 and is currently in the 84th position in the FIFA ranking. Belize is the 170th best country according to the FIFA.
In 2010, the Togo national male team was victim of a terrorist attack during the Africa Cup of Nations tournament which led to 3 people killed and 9 others injured.
Violence in Haiti
Haiti has experienced a rise in violence in the last months.
On March 18, Haiti declared a state of emergency for a month in some parts of the capital city Port-Au-Prince and in a provincial town because of increased gang violence. The country has seen a surge in kidnapping and ransoms from gangsters.
On March 12, a police storm ended in blood with 4 officers killed and several wounded by gang members. The bodies were still in the “Village de Dieu” slum, a place of rampant violence, where the perpetrators video-recorded the mutilation of the corpses.
A rogue faction of disaffected or former police officers, the Fantom 509 group, protested against the authorities who didn’t find the bodies. They also raided a police station, killing 2 policemen and freeing 4 officers who were in jail, accused of participating in an alleged coup against President Jovenel Moïse.
A deep political crisis
The country is currently in a deep political crisis but the President tried to minimize the situation to the United Nations last month.
Legislative elections due to be held in 2018 were delayed. There is no parliament and a third of the senators are currently in office.
Mr. Moïse argues he stays in power until February 2022 because he was sworn on February 2017. Opponents claim that the Presidential term ended several weeks ago, corresponding to a 5-year presidential mandate after the elections he won in 2015. However, suspicions of fraud led to violent protests until new elections in November 2016.
Media sources and useful links:
- Statement from the Belize football federation, Facebook, March 2021, Free access
- Officers kill 2 policemen amid violent protests in Haiti, Associated Press, March 2021, Free access
- Protesters Stage Jail Break as Protests Rack Haitian Capital, Voa News, March 2021, Free access
- Haiti’s president downplays his country’s crisis at UN as US sounds alarm, France 24, February 2021, Free access
- A new dawn for one of Haiti’s most notorious slums, Miami Herald, March 2013, Free access