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Peru: Football Player's Airport Joke Triggers Security Alert

On Wednesday August 15, 2012, the Peruvian national soccer team had a friendly match with the Costa Rican national team. The final score was 1-0, with a victory for Peru. For a country used to suffering failures in football, that alone would have been enough news.

However, the real news came the next day. The team was getting ready to board the plane, going through security controls at the San Jose International Airport in Costa Rica with every other passenger on that same flight. They were on their third security check when football player John Galliquio said: “an extra effort and they will find the weapon I'm carrying with me”.

Without repeating the joke, the Peruvian National team's Twitter account, Selección Nacional (@SELECCION_PERU) [es], announced:

@SELECCION_PERU: Una broma malinterpretada por personal de la.aerolínea y del aeropuerto ha generado problemaa en el vuelo de retorno de la selección.

@SELECCION_PERU [es]: A joke that was misinterpreted by the airline and the airport staff generated problems with the national team's returning flight.

This triggered all the alarms at the San Jose International Airport, and an anti-terrorist protocol was activated, as confirmed by Celso Gamboa, Costa Rica Vice Minister of Security. Galliquio was intervened and he was unable to take the flight with the rest of the team. Because of that incident, the flight had a two-hour delay.

John Galliquio, image via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Galliquio arrived to Lima later that same day, and reportedly said [es]: “I apologize with all the people that had to be taken off the plane and for the flight delay. Every day we learn new things in order to avoid the same mistakes. It's over now and there is nothing else to say. Everything is all right”.

But apparently there was more to be said. There were reactions, both locally and abroad.

Republishing an article from newspaper El Comercio [es], the blog Esto es bueno [es] noted:

“Un dicho de Galliquio a los muchachos, en broma, ha activado el protocolo anti-terrorismo en el vuelo. Parece una sobrereacción”, así fue complementada la información.

“A phrase said by Galliquio to the players, jokingly, has activated the anti-terrorism protocol on the flight. It looks like an overreaction”, that is how the information was complemented.

@SELECCION_PERU [es] later tweeted:

@SELECCION_PERU: John Galliquio ya fue liberado. Sin cargos.

@SELECCION_PERU [es]: John Galliquio has been released. No charges.

The blog TVHD online [es] reposted what teammate Paolo Guerrero said:

Estábamos bromeando. Yo dije (sobre Galliquio): ‘Él es el que tiene droga’, y no pensé que fueran tan estrictos”, relató Paolo Guerrero en el aeropuerto Jorge Chávez. “Esperemos que regrese bien”, agregó el capitán peruano.

We were joking. I said (about Galliquio): ‘He is the one with the drugs’, and I didn't think they would be that strict”, said Paolo Guerrero at Jorge Chávez Airport [in Lima]. “Hopefully, he will return safely”, the Peruvian captain added.

The incident hit the news abroad too.

In Argentina, Perfil [es] reported that as soon as Galliquio told his joke anti-terrorist alarms were activated at the San Jose International Airport in Costa Rica at 11.30 am on Thursday. In Spain, sports newspaper Marca [es] wrote that this event kept Galliquio in Costa Rican territory, where he was interrogated by the General Attorney. Sports newspaper La Nación – Puro Deporte [es], from Costa Rica, informed that Galliquio caused chaos at the airport as his team was about to leave the country.

From Germany, the blog Agencia Latina Press [de] reported:

Der peruanische Fußballspieler [...] während der Rückreise vom Länderspiel in Costa Rica (1:0) auf dem Flughafen des zentralamerikanischen Landes festgenommen worden. Nach Angaben des peruanischen Fußballverbandes hatte er “witzige” Kommentare während der Sicherheitskontrolle gemacht.

Peruvian football player [...] was detained on his flight back to his country after a match in Costa Rica (1:0) at the Central American city airport. According to Peruvian football authorities, it was due to the “witty” comment he made during the security checkpoints.

Meanwhile, Twitter was abuzz with comments.

User @442 [es] shares his curiosity:

@442: Insólita detención por “terrorista” del peruano John Galliquio (ex Racing)

@442 [es]: Unusual detention for [being] “a terrorist” for Peruvian John Galliquio (ex Racing).

On its Twitter account, Peruvian sports newspaper Líbero (@diariolibero) quotes Galliquio saying:

@diariolibero: John Galliquio: Siempre hago bromas, pero asumo mi responsabilidad y estoy arrepentido ow.ly/d1L3h

@diariolibero [es]: John Galliquio: I always joke around, but assume my responsibility and I regret it. ow.ly/d1L3h

Meanwhile, Diego R. (@diegovera_) [es] retweets what Nolberto Solano, another Peruvian football player, said:

@diegovera_: Sí, claro. RT @Netjoven Nolberto Solano: Lo de John Galliquio quedará como anécdota

@diegovera_ [es]: Yeah, right. RT @Netjoven Nolberto Solano: The John Galliquio affair will just be an anecdote.

On the other hand, Gustavo Gutierrez (@Gustav0_G) [es] links to an article which reports on the consequences of Galliquio's joke:

@Gustav0_G: Federación castigará a John Galliquio http://bit.ly/Q907k7

@Gustav0_G [es]: [The Peruvian Football] Federation will punish John Galliquio http://bit.ly/Q907k7 [es]

User Eric Olavarrieta (@ericolavarrieta) [es] is outraged, as we can see from these two tweets:

@ericolavarrieta: ¿Crear una crisis que lastima la imagen de tu selección y luego decir que fue una broma? #quéhaces #imagendeportiva -> bit.ly/NJpyKU

@ericolavarrieta [es]: To create a crisis that affects the image of your national team and then say it was a joke? #quéhaces [what are you doing?] #imagendeportiva [sports image] -> bit.ly/NJpyKU

@ericolavarrieta: Y luego sale otro jugador a rematar diciendo “en broma” que eran drogas #nojuegues #imagendeportiva -> bit.ly/NJqxLj

@ericolavarrieta [es]: And then another player comes out saying “jokingly” that it was drugs #nojuegues [don't mess with it] #imagendeportiva -> bit.ly/NJqxLj

The same user reflects on his self-named blog, Ericolavarrieta [es]:

¿Cuándo vas a despertar Perú? ¿Cuándo dejarás de dar esto tipo de lamentables noticias? ¿Cuándo te vas a poner a trabajar en serio por tu imagen y tu reputación deportiva?

Esperar que sucedan cosas peores y entonces sí reaccionar, no es el camino. Dejar pasar más tiempo para que a la prensa y a la gente se le olvide, tampoco. Hoy es el momento, hoy es tu momento.

When are you going to wake up, Peru? When will you leave behind these kind of regrettable news? When are you going to start working seriously for the sake of your image and your sports reputation?

To wait for worse things to happen and then react is not the way to go. Neither is it right to let more time go by for the press and the people to forget. Today it is the time, today it is your time.

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