There were astonishing scenes in the CONCACAF League on Tuesday night as Suriname’s 60-year-old vice president picked himself to start for Inter Moengotapoe – though things did not go to plan.
According to the Metro report, Ronnie Brunswijk, a former rebel soldier turned politician, owns the Surinamese club and elected to lead the team out in their latest match against Olimpia, handing himself the armband.
He took to the pitch at the Ronnie Brunswijkstadion – yes, really – but only lasted 54 minutes before subbing himself off, by which point the team were already 3-0 down.
Brunswijk stuck himself up front but had a very quiet game and will have been particularly disappointed to see his side win a penalty just moments after he came off.
The club owner would have been on penalty duties but instead, Miguel Darson hit the post with his effort and Olimpia quickly added three more goals as Inter Moengotapoe lost 6-0.
There is a second leg to look forward to next week, though Brunswijk is not expected to travel.
In even more astonishing scenes, after the match, Suriname’s vice president entered the Olimpia dressing room and handing out cash to the players of the winning team, also swapping shirts with one of the players.
The scene was reminiscent of a stunt he pulled in 2018 as an MP when he has filmed showering villages with cash from a helicopter, which he insisted was an act of philanthropy, not bribery: ‘I know what it is to not have anything and be poor.’
Brunswijk has led a rather interesting life and has been one of Suriname’s most influential figures since coming to prominence as a rebel leader who formed the Surinamese Liberation Army in 1985.
In 1999, the Dutch government accused him of cocaine trafficking and he was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison, though remained a free man in Suriname.
Six years later he had another run-in with the authorities when he was suspended by the national football association after threatening a player on the pitch with a handgun, while he was also sanctioned in 2012 for verbally abusing a referee.
Brunswijk served as an MP for 15 years and in 2020 became the vice president of Suriname. He had announced his retirement from football several years ago but made his return in Tuesday’s 6-0 loss.