Bizarre saga of alleged kidnapping at Ventspils football club

Nigerian striker Adeleke Akinyemi, who plays for Latvian football club Ventspils, based in western Latvia, has been kidnapped and the kidnappers are blackmailing the club, the club claimed in a statement to the press August 8.

The club has turned to the State Police after filing a missing persons report. 

Nevertheless, shortly after the club did so, the State Police managed to reach the player by phone and ascertain that Akinyemi has not, in fact, been kidnapped.

Indeed, it makes Ventspils' allegations of "kidnapping", described below, look rather ill-advised. 

In a statement, Ventspils said that several persons have been calling the club. The club said it believes them to be members of a criminal gang. Ventspils reportedly tried to tell these persons several times to return Akinyemi, but the club was being "blackmailed".

"These people are trying to force unacceptable contract terms on us regarding the contract's duration and transfer value," says the statement. "If we refuse, they will not give the player back to us. Knowing that Akinyemi has been playing very well recently, we believe that the player has been kidnapped and the kidnappers want a ransom."

Ventspils said it would also seek help from FIFA and UEFA.

As LETA reported earlier, the 19-year-old did not show up for the club's Latvian Cup match in Liepāja on August 6. Club officials have also failed to contact the player by phone, and he has not been seen at his place of residence - a hotel in Ventspils.

Akinyemi is the club's top goal scorer this season with 13, and also the top scorer in the Latvian Football League at the moment.

He scored seven goals in four UEFA Europa League qualifiers last month.

It has been rumored that several French, German and Swiss clubs have expressed interest in the Nigerian forward, who is still under contract with Ventspils for the next four years.

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