Egyptian players' version of theft a ruse?

usa_geypt22062009 Action galore: The Confed Cup 2009 match between Egypt and USA at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu, Independent Newspapers
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  • Police are due to question the Egyptian soccer team on Monday, after it emerged that some players were not robbed but might have been taken for a ride by women they had invited to their hotel for an impromptu victory party.

    Initial investigations point to no forced entry in any of the Joburg hotel's rooms. They show that the players may have been the victims of those they invited to join them to celebrate their surprise win over Italy.

    It was decided to hold off questioning the team on Sunday, because of their final Confederations Cup group match against the USA last night, a local organising committee source said.

    "They (the police) did not want to interrogate the team ahead of the match (against the USA) and be accused of harassing the players if they do not perform.

    "The long and the short of it is that the police are not convinced of the story," the LOC source said.

    All room safes were linked to a central computer and there were no signs of tampering, nor were there signs of forced entry to the rooms themselves. Electronic access to rooms was also monitored.

    The LOC, which has been at pains to show the world that South Africa is not a crime hellhole, is expected to ask police to issue a statement as soon as the investigation is completed.

    However, the chairperson of the Egyptian football federation reacted angrily to allegations that their players had "been caught with their pants down", the German press agency dpa reported on Sunday.

    "I think that they (newspapers' sources) said that to divert attention from the main issue, which is security, by creating a scandal for the Egyptian team," Samir Zahir was reported as saying.

    The amount reportedly stolen was $2 400 (about R19 500) and was said to have been discovered after the Egyptian players returned to their hotel rooms after Thursday's victory.

    Several Sunday newspapers reported yesterday that players had held a party with "ladies of the night" and later were robbed of cash. The theft was initially said to have been discovered after the players had returned to their "ransacked" hotel rooms.

    City Press newspaper quoted a police source as saying that video footage showed "scantily clad" women moving in and out of rooms at what looked like a party.

    An unnamed senior police officer told The Sunday Independent that some of the players "may have come up with the robbery claims to avoid being caught out or embarrassed by their spouses and girlfriends back home in Egypt".

    The Sunday World quoted members of the security company guarding the Protea Hotel Wanderers confirming that the players had brought "abomagosha (ladies of the night)" on to the premises, "and when they were robbed, they pointed their dirty fingers at the hotel staff".

    Police yesterday officially distanced themselves from the newspaper reports. A spokesperson, Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo, refused to comment on what he said were "faceless comments".

    However, Naidoo dismissed reports that a foreign journalist had been robbed at a Sandton hotel at the weekend.

    "No such case has been reported (to the police). We can only comment if a case has been reported, but nothing has been reported to us and we are not aware," said Naidoo.

    Meanwhile, Tessa Douglas, of Seeff Properties in Umhlanga, Durban, said she had helped several British and Irish Lions supporters who had been mugged or robbed in Durban on Saturday night.

    "I was helping these chaps with photocopying police affidavits so that they could fly home. Many had their passports stolen and are having problems getting back to England.

    "The garden cottage on my property was broken into last night and a German national's valuables were stolen. The police were telling me that bed-and-breakfasts all over Umhlanga had been hit."

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