South African Premier Division side Marumo Gallants FC say they are working to resolve a “financial dispute” that has seen two of its employees detained in a Libyan hotel for two weeks over unpaid bills.
It follows Gallants’ African Confederation Cup tie against Al Akhdar in Benghazi last month.
Following the match, team manager Rufus Matsena and physiotherapist Dina Dhlomo were refused permission to leave the team’s accommodation after the club allegedly failed to cover its hotel bill and other costs incurred during the stay.
In a statement, the club said they are in “communication with relevant officials to resolve the situation” and that the officials are “safe and waiting for the matter to be settled”.
According to Reuters, the South African government has stepped in to try and settle the matter.
The detention is the culmination of a trip described by the club’s English coach, Dylan Kerr, as a “nightmare”.
The team were delayed in Istanbul for three days while in transit, waiting for onward tickets to Libya to be bought.
They finally arrived in Benghazi on matchday and went straight to the stadium from the airport without their kit. The match had already been pushed back by three hours, but the hosts were not informed and arrived at the Matyrs of February stadium to find no officials and no opponent.
Despite a 4-1 defeat in Libya, Gallants finished top of their group to qualify for the knockout stages of the continent’s second-tier club competition.
But taking part in the tournament, with travel to Algeria and DR Congo as well as Libya, has strained the team’s finances to such an extent that on Sunday they needed financial support from provincial authorities to help cover expenses for their last group match against Saint-Eloi Lupopo in Johannesburg.
The club, who are currently bottom of the Premier Division, say they will not be making any further comment until its two employees in Libya have been released.