Congratulations to Egypt, who pulled off the shock of the Confederations Cup in South Africa yesterday by beating current world champions Italy 1-0 in a group stage match. It was an historic win for Egypt specifically and African soccer in general, as the victory proved that teams from Africa can compete with - and beat - the best teams in the world.
But despite the result, five unnamed members of the Egyptian national team were pretty big losers yesterday. Why? Because as the BBC reports, they had their hotel robbed and about $2,400 in cash stolen while they were playing in the biggest match of their lives. Whoops! Looks like South African officials still have a few kinks to work out before they host the World Cup next year.
For their part, South African authorities are not saying that the theft was an inside job, even though the culprits clearly knew where the players were staying and when they would be away from their rooms. (Reminder: apply for a job at the Protea Wanderers Hotel in Johannesburg before the World Cup starts.) But they will say that the players should have known better than to expect money they left in plain sight to be there when they came back.
“Five players have reported a case of theft, with the total sums lost amounting to US$2,400,” Thembi Nkhwashu, a spokesperson for the Gauteng South African Police Services, told BBC Sport.
“The period when the money could have disappeared is from the time they left the hotel for the match until this morning when we were notified.”
Nkwashu refused to be drawn on whether the matter could have been an internal problem, but did say that the players had lacked responsibility in looking after their money.
“All the players had a safe in their rooms and were given information on how to operate those services, but for one reason or other they did not follow the instructions,” she added.
So for the scores of people who were concerned about rampant violence and crime during the World Cup next year…yeah, you might be right. But the head of the Egyptian soccer delegation said that their stay in South Africa has been great - except for that pesky “robbery” thing.
“Our stay in South Africa has been great and everyone has been very hospitable, so this is a very unfortunate event,” Mahmoud Taher, the head of Egypt’s delegation, told BBC Sport.
“There was some negligence on the players’ part, leaving the money in drawers, and they’ll be getting firm instructions for next time.”
“It’s not an issue which we want to create too many problems over but the Local Organising Committee has been informed.”
So remember, soccer fans: as long as you aren’t complete idiots like the Egyptian soccer team, your stay in South Africa for the World Cup will be perfectly safe. Just make sure you stay within the designated tourist areas. And don’t go out by yourself at night. Or with a large group, really. Or leave anything of value in your room not in a safe. Or even in a safe, probably, since the staff have access to that, too.
I’ll be watching it on Tivo, thanks.