Venezuela soccer coach urges Maduro: 'Stop the weapons!'
Fresh from leading Venezuela's Under-20 soccer squad to a World Cup final, coach Rafael Dudamel on Thursday urged President Nicolas Maduro to stop political violence that has killed at least 67 people in the last two months.
Dudamel was speaking after his team, nicknamed the "Vinotinto" (Red Wine) for their burgundy colors, beat Uruguay 4-3 on penalties in the semi-final of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in South Korea.
"Mr. President, let's stop the weapons now. The only thing those kids going onto the streets want is a better Venezuela ... the same as the Vinotinto kids," Dudamel said after the match in a video, referring to young protesters fighting security forces.
"Today, a 17-year-old has given us joy, and yesterday a 17-year-old died," he added of the latest fatality.
Despite ongoing unrest in Venezuela, there was a brief national unity on Thursday as fans celebrated arguably the greatest moment in the country’s soccer history. The Under-20 squad will meet England in Sunday's final.
Dudamel's comments were only carried locally on one cable sports TV channel in the early morning, but they were also widely circulated by social media during the day.