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Organised gangs, football's latest menace? Fans irked after Barcelona's Aubameyang becomes latest victim

Organized gangs continue to target top-tier football players across Europe, which has become a sore point for the sport. The most recent instance is the heinous heist that occurred at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Barcelona home on Monday.

football Organised gangs terrorise footballers: Fans outraged after Barcelona's Aubameyang becomes latest victim snt
First Published Aug 29, 2022, 10:03 PM IST

Several armed men reportedly broke into Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's home in the Spanish city early on Monday morning and assaulted him. According to El Pais, at least four guys broke into his garden in the Castelldefels complex and threatened the Gabonese with guns and iron bars. After breaking into the player's safe, the crooks reportedly escaped with jewels.

The report added that Aubameyang, who joined the Catalan club in January from Arsenal, was abused by the men in front of his wife Alysha Behague before fleeing in a white Audi A3. The couple has been together for over ten years after meeting while the player was at AC Milan.

Both were attacked by the gang and suffered only minor wounds. According to a new report by RAC1, they were left to lie on the floor in front of their two terrified children, Curtys, 11, and Pierre, 6, for an hour. The Barcelona star was reportedly struck on the chin by an iron bar, while Behague suffered a blow to the head. Behague quickly alerted Spanish police, who are now searching for the culprits.

Also read: It's Chelsea vs Man United for Aubameyang! Will the Barcelona striker return to Premier League?

According to reports, the couple declined to go to the hospital because they didn't want to scare their kids anymore. Barcelona is prepared to offer them psychologists if they need additional help.

Just seven months after leaving Arsenal owing to a falling out with Mikel Arteta over disciplinary issues, Aubameyang is being linked with a return to the Premier League after interest from Chelsea and is renowned for driving flashy sports cars and flaunting his fancy jewellery and brand names.

Barcelona athletes have been targets of theft before

Aubameyang's teammate Robert Lewandowski had his 59,000 dollars watch stolen from outside the club's practice facility. The Polish superstar's watch was snatched as the former Bayern Munich striker greeted fans ahead of an evening training session with the Catalan club.

Lewandowski was signing autographs when the car door was opened, and the robber allegedly took the watch before attempting to flee on foot. The 33-year-old striker received his watch back before participating in the practise session before Sunday's LaLiga match at Real Sociedad after police swiftly apprehended a suspect.

football Organised gangs terrorise footballers: Fans outraged after Barcelona's Aubameyang becomes latest victim snt

Young winger Ansu Fati's house was broken into in November while he was downstairs watching the team play local rivals Espanyol. 

In 2018, then Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho was burgled, while a group of men broke into defender Gerard Pique's house while he was preparing to play for Spain at the World Cup. Jordi Alba's family was present when burglars forced their way into his home the same year.

In 2019, former midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng reportedly lost jewellery and cash worth between 255,000 pounds and 350,000 pounds after a gang entered his house while he was playing a match.

Also read: Lewandowski is a blessing for Barcelona, states coach Xavi after 4-0 win against Real Valladolid

La Liga players continue to be victims of organised gangs

Samu Castillejo, a forward for Valencia, was robbed around two weeks ago, but he was fortunate not to be home when the intruders broke in.

During a derby in 2019, Casemiro's home was broken into while his wife and daughter were inside. Meanwhile, on vacation with his family, Lucas Vazquez experienced a similar incident; Zinedine Zidane and Isco also were victims of similar crimes while they were teammates at Real Madrid.

The most recent incident to surface on social media included Mina Bonino, Fede Valverde's partner, complaining while on vacation in Ibiza. "They drugged me", said Mina about the robbery at her summer home where 10,000 euros were stolen. 

"The real estate agents told us that the food could have been poisoned by the chef, so they took us to the hospital for substance tests," Mina added.

Other footballers who have suffered at the hands of organised gangs

Aubameyang's latest armed robbery and assault comes after Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba claimed that he was a victim of an 11 million-pound blackmail plot by a group that forced him to a flat in Paris and threatened him with assault guns. The 29-year-old, a World Cup champion with France, claimed the guys demanded the money for 13 years' worth of "protection services," including the time he spent in Manchester.

football Organised gangs terrorise footballers: Fans outraged after Barcelona's Aubameyang becomes latest victim snt

In December, Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo was assaulted at his home in England, and Benfica defender Nicolas Otamendi was attacked during a robbery at his home in Portugal.

Also read: 'Terrorised my family': Manchester City's Cancelo opens up on Christmas robbery

The heist at Ashley Cole's house in 2020 was one of the crimes with the highest media attention. At his home in Fetcham, Surrey, in January, the former England full-back—who retired from football at 38 in August 2019—was robbed by assailants wearing masks. Up to six robbers reportedly dressed in camouflage clothing and balaclavas stole a significant amount of jewellery during the violent robbery.

Football fans are outraged by the continuous spate of crimes against Europe's top-flight players. Here's a look at some of the reactions to Aubameyang's latest break-in and the issue of organised gangs terrorising football stars in the continent:

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