Suriname’s 60-year-old vice president Ronnie Brunswijk wrote his name in the history books Tuesday when he became the oldest person to play in an official international club competition, ESPN reported.
The politician, who is the owner of local soccer side Inter Moengotapoe, was fielded by the team in the first leg of their round of 16 CONCACAF League match against Honduran side Olimpia. The match was played at Suriname’s Franklin Essed Stadion.
And though the Surinamese outfit lost 6-0, the highlight of the encounter was Brunswijk leading his team as the captain and also playing 54 minutes of the game. The South American county’s vice president partnered with his son in attack. He also wore the number 61 jersey to mark his year of birth.
But Brunswijk being allowed to feature in the competitive game was reportedly condemned by Honduran media who labeled it as disrespectful. A player for Olimpia, Johnny Leveron, however, said it was the Surinamese team’s “choice” and “they did what they thought was best for their team.” “We don’t get involved in that,” Leveron added.
Olimpia’s assistant coach Gustavo Reggi also said they had their eyes on the prize. “We found out half an hour earlier when they gave us the squad [that Brunswijk was playing],” Reggi said. “This is a matter for our rivals. We just had to focus on ourselves.
“We represent a club, and we have to do it in the best possible way whether national or internationally. That is what we came here to do. We are happy with the win and now we will wait for the return leg.”
Following the game, Brunswijk was seen in a video interacting with Olimpia players in their changing room and appearing to give them money, CNN reported. In response to Brunswijk’s supposed gesture to the opponents, CONCACAF released a statement announcing it was opening a probe as his actions raises “integrity issues.”
The association said it was “extremely concerned at the content of a video circulating on social media which raises potential integrity issues surrounding the Concacaf League match between Inter Moengotapoe and CD Olimpia.
“The matter is being referred to the Concacaf Disciplinary Committee who will commence a formal investigation and a further update will be provided when that process has concluded.”
Olimpia will be hosting Inter Moengotapoe at home for the second leg of the match on September 28.