Mystery surrounds Uruguayan players robbery

Two Uruguay players have had $12,000 stolen from their hotel room in Cape Town, media reports said on Sunday. But local police said the team was not pressing charges amid reports the thief was from their own delegation — something the Uruguayan Football Association denied.

Police spokeswoman Brigadier Sally de Beer said the rooms of Ernesto Rodriguez and Daniel Marotta were broken into while they were battling to a 0-0 draw with France in their opening World Cup match on Friday evening.

Rodriguez lost $4,000 and Marotta $8,000, reported the Weekend Argus and the Cape Times while the Sunday Times reported that security cameras had shown a Uruguayan to be responsible.

"On Friday night, we received a call from the Uruguayan delegation who said there had been a robbery in their hotel," De Beer said.

"But when the police arrived at the hotel they did not want to press charges.

"Now it is up to the Uruguayan delegation to explain what happened," she added.

South African media reports speculated that the hotel’s closed circuit television would show an inside job, but the president of the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF), Sebastian Bauza, hotly denied that.

"First we are not talking about $12,000," he told AFP.

"One official has lost $4,000. The others are over in Kimberley and that’s why charges were not pressed," he added, playing down the incident, which occurred while the two men were watching Uruguay’s draw with France.

Bauxa stressed that the delegates "have known each other for 20 years" while Uruguay team officials stressed they will deal with the matter internally.

De Beer said earlier that police viewed surveillance camera footage after being called to the Vineyard Hotel.

South Africa has hired tens of thousands of extra police for the tournament in a bid to counter its reputation as one of the world’s most crime-ridden countries.

But they have been unable to prevent a series of robberies against World Cup visitors, with journalists from China, Portugal and Spain all falling victim to robberies.