Spain denies robbery was linked to team party
FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) - Spain has acknowledged six of its players were robbed during the first week of the Confederations Cup, but is denying the theft took place at a team party.
The Spanish Football Federation, which had previously declined to give specifics, issued a statement on Tuesday responding to reports in the Brazilian media that the theft was connected to a team party following a 2-1 victory over Uruguay in Recife nine days ago.
The federation "categorically denies'' the reports and called the allegations damaging to "the honor of the players and their family and friends.''
Brazilian media, citing employees of the hotel and security officials, reported that women from outside the Spanish traveling party and alcohol were involved in the party at the team hotel.
The Spanish federation said that "Six national team players were the subject of a robbery at the team's hotel in Recife during the stay for the game between Spain and Uruguay in the Confederations Cup. This was reported in a timely manner to the Brazilian police.
"This statement is not an attack against the organizing committee, nor against FIFA, nor the country of Brazil, which has welcomed the Spanish team. An event like this could take place anywhere in the world, including Spain.
"Since then, a series of verbal attacks on our players has been published, which the RFEF totally rejects and profoundly condemns. They damage the honor of the players and their family and friends.''
The statement ended by saying the aim of the reports was to "cause harm to the good name of the players on the team, who have demonstrated good conduct, professionalism and exemplary behavior for many years.''
Defender Gerard Pique, one the players reported by Brazilian media to have been involved, called the reports "a total lie.''
Spain faces Italy on Thursday in the Confederations Cup semifinals, looking to reach the final on Sunday and win the only major tournament title it lacks. Spain won the 2010 World Cup and the last two European championships.
Security has long been a problem in Brazil, where muggings, carjackings and armed robberies are common. It's a concern leading up to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Last Wednesday, the wife of Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar said she was robbed at gunpoint in Fortaleza, where Brazil played Mexico that day. In the capital Brasilia, the hotel room of at least one journalist was robbed before the opening match of the Confederations Cup.