Ronnie Brunswijk, the vice president of Suriname, made sporting history on Tuesday. At 60 years old, he suited up and played for Inter Moengotapoe, the soccer club that he owns, becoming the oldest player to play in an international club competition.
Brunswijk was one of the starters in Tuesday, and he wore the No. 61 jersey to commemorate the year he was born.
The game was the first in the Round of 16 of the CONCACAF league, CONCACAF’s second-tier tournament. Brunswijk played for 54 minutes, 29 of which were alongside his son, Damian Brunswijk.
Inter lost 6-0 to Honduran club Olimpia.
Response to Brunswijk taking the field
Not everyone was particularly thrilled with the Inter owner (not to mention the VP of Suriname) playing in an official game. Honduran sports publication Diez called the move disrespectful, and published a slideshow of numerous other outlets criticizing the decision. Brunswijk was also spotted doling out cash to players and staff when he went to greet them in the locker room.
Comments from players were, as you’d imagine, a little less incendiary. Especially from Inter players, since the person they were being asked to comment about was the owner of the club they play for and a high ranking elected official.
“It was their choice and did they did what they thought was best for their team,” Inter defender Johnny Leveron said via ESPN. “We don’t get involved in that.”
Olimpia assistant coach Gustavo Reggi told the media that he wasn’t focused on Brunswijk at all.
“We found out half an hour earlier when they gave us the squad [that Brunswijk was playing],” he said via ESPN. “This is a matter for our rivals. We just had to focus on ourselves.
“We represent a club, and we have to do it in the best possible way whether national or internationally. That is what we came here to do. We are happy with the win and now we will wait for the return leg.”
Brunswijk wanted by Interpol
Brunswijk is an interesting guy. He’s wealthy — he’s pulled stunts like dropping money on his supporters from a helicopter — but there are questions about where his money comes from. He helped bring democracy to Suriname, but his resume was quite full before that. Here’s a quote from a profile the New York Times did on Brunswijk back in January.
Along the way, he had been an elite paratrooper, a soccer player, a wanted bank robber, a guerrilla leader, a gold baron and a father to at least 50 children.
His mother has said he has so many offspring that unknown people sometimes ask to hug her, claiming to be her grandchildren.
There’s one more thing to add to that list: wanted by Interpol. According to Marca, Brunswijk is wanted by Interpol on drug trafficking charges. When his club plays the second leg of the tournament, he won’t be able to suit up because he’s not able to leave Suriname.