French Police Search Belarusian National Hockey Team In Paris Ahead Of World Championship

French police searched the coaching staff of the national hockey team of Belarus and several hockey players at a railway station in Paris on 3 May ahead of the World Championship.

The Belarusian national hockey team arrived by train from Bordeaux to the French capital after friendly matches with the hosts of the Championship, the Belarusian media have learned.

Upon the train’s arrival, all the passengers of the train were allowed to leave, while the police carried out a thorough search of the luggage of the main coach Dave Lewis, assistant coaches Craig Woodcroft and Oleg Antonenko. Two palyers, Egor Sharangovich and Andrei Kostitsyn, were searched as well.

The inspection lasted for about 20 minutes. The team was released after nothing was found.

“When the train arrived, passengers were asked to stay in the train “for security reasons”. A few minutes later, when people were permitted to leave the train, we ended up in a police cordon, which suddenly turned into an improvised customs checkpoint. Personal belongings of the players and coaches had been screened very carefully. As for the doctor of our team, they have reviewed every pill and ampoule in his luggage.

None of the police officers spoke Russian, so the French guide of our team had to act as interpreter,” one of the eyewitnesses told journalists.

On 4 May the Belarusian Foreign Ministry called out the French ambassador to Belarus in connection with the incident in Paris, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in its Twitter account.

In a comment to SPORT.TUT.BY, the spokesperson for the Belarusian Hockey Federation said that Belarus treats the requirements and rules of staying in a foreign country with understanding, but wants all national teams to be treated equally.

She added that the French Hockey Federation had apologized for yesterday’s incident, but there were no apologies or clarifications from the French law enforcement agencies.

The 2017 IIHF World Championship will be hosted by Paris, France, and Cologne, Germany, from 5 to 21 May 2017.

Team Belarus is in group B, the matches of which will be played in Paris.