Ronnie Brunswijk has been a lot of things over his 60 years. Son of subsistence farmers from one among the poorest regions of 1 among the poorest nations within the Western Hemisphere. Handpicked bodyguard of a military dictator. A Robin Hood-kind character who was convicted of bank theft and revered for his handouts to the dismal. A convicted drug trafficker in two European international locations. Father to at least 50 teenagers, according to the Original York Instances. And, as of last year, vice president of Suriname.
He also is the proprietor of a soccer team called Inter Moengotapoe, which competes within the tip division of Suriname’s professional ranks. And on Tuesday night all thru an international membership match, Brunswijk added a recent entry to his résumé: world’s oldest professional soccer player.
Brunswijk inserted himself into Inter Moengotapoe’s starting lineup for Tuesday night’s match against Olimpia of Honduras within the Concacaf League, the 2nd-tier competition for clubs from North and Central America, plus the Caribbean (although located in South America, Surinamese teams cease no longer compete in that continent’s international tournaments). Wearing No. 61, a tribute to his 1961 starting up year, he played 54 minutes as a forward alongside his son, Damian, earlier than subbing himself out.
Let’s lawful say Brunswijk struck a peculiarly imposing presence on the pitch.
After being singled out to attend boarding college at the age of 10, Brunswijk became a paratrooper for the Surinamese army and eventually became the personal bodyguard to military dictator Desiré Bouterse, who assumed management of the small South American nation in 1980 after a coup. Nonetheless the 2 eventually had a falling out over what Brunswijk said was Bouterse’s violent treatment of political opponents, including a community of descendants of enslaved folks called Maroons, to which Brunswijk belonged.
Eventually, Brunswijk earned a reputation as a Robin Hood of kinds, stealing funds from the govtand giving the cash to the dismal (in a Original York Instances article from last year, Brunswijk says criminal charges against him have been invented by the Bouterse regime and that he made his cash from a gold mine). He eventually led a 1,200-stable riot army in Suriname’s devastating six-year civil war, from which the nation quiet is convalescing three decades later.
Brunswijk also has been accused of the use of drug trafficking to fund his cause, and in 1999 a Dutch court docket convicted him in absentia of operating a cocaine-smuggling ring and handed down a six-year penitentiary sentence. One year later, a French court docket issued a similar conviction. Brunswijk denied any involvement in drug trafficking in last year’s Instances account, saying his wealth comes from timber and gold mining established after the civil war led to 1992.
Chandrikapersad Santokhi, a former police officer who was tasked with tracking down Brunswijk within the 1980s, became Suriname’s president last year. Brunswijk — who had turn into a political energy player within the nation and briefly had been chairman of the nation’s National Assembly — was elected vice president after forming a coalition govt with Santokhi, turning into the primary Maroon person to retain the post.
“Mr. Brunswijk has his historical past. We may explore at his historical past and explore that as a barrier,” Santokhi told the Instances. “We’re making an attempt forward to a better future, because we are two leaders who have been entrusted to lead this nation together.”
Brunswijk has persevered to spread around his wealth to the impoverished Maroon community whereas also at one point reportedly procuring cars for his complete soccer team. After Tuesday’s match, a shirtless Brunswijk even was considered on video handing out cash to the players on the opposing Olimpia team in their locker room, a questionable little bit of generosity that has piqued the pastime of Concacaf itself.
“We are extraordinarily fervent at the advise of a video circulating on social media which raises potential integrity points surrounding the Concacaf League match between Inter Moengotapoe and CD Olimpia,” Concacaf said in a statement Wednesday. “The matter is being referred to the Concacaf Disciplinary Committee who will start a formal investigation and a additional update will probably be provided when that process has concluded.”
While some observers criticized Brunswijk’s actions Tuesday, the Olimpia players didn’t appear to care.
“It was their choice and did they did what they understanding was finest for their team. We don’t acquire serious about that,” defender Johnny Leveron said, per ESPN.
Brunswijk’s presence on the pitch did no longer give his team any kill of boost: Inter Moengotapoe lost, 6-0. According to the Honduran newspaper Diez, Brunswijk’s international legal situation will forestall him from traveling to Honduras for the return match against Olimpia on Monday.