The vice president of South America’s smallest independent country has been banned by FIFA’s continental governing body in the region for three years over bizarre video footage that went viral.
Two months into his tenure as the deputy head of state, 60-year-old Ronnie Brunswijk was seen becoming the oldest player to feature in an international club competition when he played for the club he owns, Inter Moengotapoe, last week.
The politician’s son, Damian Brunswijk, partnered him in attack, playing for less than half an hour while his father stayed on the pitch for 54 minutes.
Brunswijk Snr’s time participating in games run by the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), though, looks to have drawn to an abrupt end as a result of the heavily-viewed scenes at the Franklin Essed Stadium in the Surinamese capital of Paramaribo.
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As well as his unlikely match appearance, Brunswijk was said to have been the shirtless man shown handing out what appeared to be cash in the locker room afterwards.
Even more curiously, the readies are said to have been dished out to members of the opposition Olimpia team, who hail from Honduras and beat Inter 6-0 in the league match.
“Having assessed the actions evidenced in the video and considered written statements provided by both clubs, the Committee has determined that serious breaches of integrity rules occurred after the match,” CONCACAF responded in a statement.
The Vice President of Suriname, Ronnie Brunswijk, captained his side in a CONCACAF League fixture against Olimpia last night
At the age of 60, he played up front alongside his own son Damian… unfortunately they lost 6-0 pic.twitter.com/dBg0cnLTEU
— FootballFunnys (@FootballFunnnys) September 22, 2021
Sick of these insinuations Ronnie Brunswijk wasn’t picked on merit just because he’s 60 years old, owns the team and the stadium is named after him. You can’t argue with 14 passes completed from 17 attempts. https://t.co/77aFrTI7bn pic.twitter.com/BBSYwIkFaL
— Paul Watson (@paul_c_watson) September 22, 2021
“As a consequence of these rule breaches, both clubs have been disqualified and removed from this year’s CONCACAF League with immediate effect.
“Additionally, the Committee has ruled that Mr Ronnie Brunswijk is banned for three years from participating in any capacity in CONCACAF competitions.”
Sports-loving Brunswijk, who wished Surinamese UFC fighter Jairzinho Rozenstruik good luck ahead of his defeat to Curtis Blaydes at UFC 266 on Saturday, said Olimpia had played “great football”.
Video was streamed tonight from Olimpia's locker room that appears to show Ronnie Brunswijk giving people in the locker room cash. He also leaves with an Olimpia shirt.pic.twitter.com/eQ1Vk928Bl
— Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) September 22, 2021
“I’ve been a football fan from an early age,” he wrote on Facebook after the match. “Soccer is my hobby.
“As long as I still feel fit, I will continue to play soccer for Inter Moengotapoe. Olimpia played a [good] game and rightly won 6-0.
“After good consultation with the manager, I rewarded the Honduran team. I have only given the reward out of gratitude to the players. I will continue to work for top sport.”
Olimpia are said to have returned the compliment by gifting Brunswijk a shirt.
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