A Different Week – Much Ado in Peru

Danny Murphy’s recent comments about bad tackling may have caused consternation throughout the Premiership, but a row currently escalating in Peru is making Murphy’s paddy seem a touch on the precious side.

While Christophe Berra, Lee Cattermole and Kevin Davies may be the latest occupational hazards facing top flight footballers, at least they do not have to worry about being poisoned by the opposition bench, something which allegedly happened in Peru last Sunday, as a Second Division promotion play-off descended into farce after four players collapsed on the pitch. This bizarre controversy occurred during a match between promotion rivals Hijos de Acosvinchos and Sport Ancash, with four Hijos players fainting after consuming energy drinks handed to them by the Ancash coaching staff, which Hijos officials have alleged were spiked with tranquilisers.

Hijos claim the offending beverages were passed to their players by Ancash officials during a refreshment break. Manager Americo Ibanez said: ‘My boys say Ancash medical staff gave them a liquid which made them feel dizzy and faint. When they returned the bottles so the other team could drink from them as well, someone snatched them out of their hands.’One of the players who collapsed, defender Luis Coello, said the drink had an unusual, herbal taste and made him feel tired and faint before falling unconscious and waking up in hospital.

As Hijos players Andy Salinas, Juan Luna and Martin Reategui also collapsed, the suspicion was immediate, with Hijos players, smelling a rat, angrily confronting Ancash players and staff as their stricken colleagues received treatment. Fearing that they were suffering from heart problems, the players, who were fortunately not seriously harmed, were immediately taken to hospital, where tests revealed that the players had traces of a sleep inducing tranquilizer in the blood, leading to claims that the drinks had in fact been laced with sedatives. The tests showed that the Hijos players had Benzodiazepine in their systems, a drug which is sometimes used to sedate horses. Hijos had gone into the game needing only a draw clinch promotion to the First Division. However, despite the on pitch chaos, the match officials allowed the game to continue and with their opponents team in disarray, it was Ancash who romped to a 3-0 victory and secured a spot in Peru´s top flight.

Unsurprisingly, Hijos, who play in the Peruvian capital Lima, have called for an investigation by the Peruvian FA and for the time being Ancash’s promotion has been put on hold. ‘We want the authorities to investigate this and prove where this substance came from’ said Ibanez, ‘We’re intending to launch a formal complaint.’ Ancash, however, deny the allegations, with Ibanez’s opposite number, Sport Ancash president Pepe Mallqui blaming the fainting fits on the heavy pre-match meal he claims the Hijos players had eaten shortly before kickoff. ‘They ate a very late lunch, at around 2pm, barbecued chicken with spices and ended up taking indigestion tablets afterwards,’ he said. ‘I’m sure these four men fainted because of that and the physical effort they put in.’ He also claimed that a match official told him before the game that several Hijos players had complained of stomach problems and feeling faint.

Ibanez, denies that his players had a large chicken meal before the game and has asked for the result and Ancash’s promotion to be overturned and awarded to Hijos. Whether this is a case of foul play or fowl d

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