Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Sports

Mexican player overpowered kidnapper

About 24 hours after he was kidnapped, Mexican soccer player Alan Pulido found himself alone with one of his captors and saw his chance. He wrestled away the man's pistol and his cellphone and dialed Mexico's emergency number.

Within minutes, he was free.

An official summary report of three calls to an emergency operator obtained by the Associated Press shows that the 25-year-old forward for Olympiakos in the Greek league threatened and beat his captor while on the phone, demanding to be told where they were.

The dramatic account shows that Pulido — listed at 5 feet 9 and about 150 pounds, was the main actor in his own liberation — a contrast with initial official accounts of his rescue by police.

On a first call, with the kidnapper overpowered, Pulido peered out of a window and described the white two-story house with two cars, grey and red, parked in front.

In the next call, Pulido told the operator that state police had arrived outside. The operator told him to fire the handgun so they would know they were in the right spot, but Pulido said he had no bullets. He said police themselves were starting to shoot and described his shorts and tank top so they wouldn't confuse him with the now-unconscious captor.

Once police arrived, he made a third call to confirm with the operator that they were trustworthy.

Tamaulipas state Attorney General Ismael Quintanilla told a news conference that emergency services had received the call after midnight Sunday due to a "careless act by his captors."

In a later interview with Imagen Radio, he confirmed that Pulido had forcibly seized the phone from his captor.

"There was an exchange of punches between them," Quintanilla said, though he did not mention the gun.

Quintanilla said Pulido cut his wrist when he broke a window trying to escape.

Pulido was nabbed by four armed people on a highway while returning from a party at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday in his hometown of Ciudad Victoria in Tamaulipas. His girlfriend, who was not taken, alerted others.

"Everyone began to (mobilize) to look for him, especially when we knew who he was, because we knew it was going to make a big ruckus and was going to be affecting us a lot in the press," Quintanilla said.

Quintanilla said the army, federal and state police participated.

Pulido's family received the first ransom call around 1:30 p.m. Sunday and a second one a short time later, Quintanilla said.

The suspect was 38-year-old from the state of Veracruz, who Quintanilla said was a member of one of the criminal organizations operating in the city. He said three other suspects were identified and a search is under way.

Pulido, who was on Mexico's 2014 World Cup squad, made a brief appearance before reporters Monday, responding only to a question about how he was: "Very well, thank God."

Other soccer news

Teen sensation Marcus Rashford signed a contract with the English Premier League's Manchester United through June 2020, a reward for the striker's breakthrough this season when he scored eight goals in 17 appearances — a performance that could earn him a place in England's European Championship squad. The 18-year-old was plucked from the youth teams and given his debut in February because of a rash of injuries at United, which is owned by the Glazer family.

FIFA's new top administrator, U.N. official Fatma Samoura, met with staff in Zurich for the first time Monday and will start work June 20. Samoura, the first woman to hold the position, said her priority is to oversee reforms.

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