Luxembourg footballers struck down by food poisoning

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MOSCOW (AP) — Luxembourg's European championship qualifying game against Belarus may be called off after 16 of its players were struck down with food poisoning.

Luxembourg Football Federation spokesman Marc Diederich told The Associated Press on Monday that the players suffered "terrible stomach aches" and spent hours in the bathroom after eating a meal of spaghetti bolognaise Sunday evening at the team's hotel in the Belarusian capital Minsk.

The players were struck down almost simultaneously in the early hours of the morning and team doctors treated them with medicine and electrolytes, although none required hospital treatment.

With 16 of the 20 players in the squad affected, "we are in close contact with UEFA" about possibly rearranging Tuesday's Group C game and a decision is expected Tuesday, he added.

However, all of the players took to the pitch at the Borisov Arena for a training session Monday evening.

"Some are a little bit ill still, but they try to train, see what their body does," Diederich said. "It seems like they could play if something else doesn't happen again in the night."

The Belarusian team expects to play Tuesday after consulting UEFA's match delegate.

"According to the info from the delegate, no postponing of the game," Belarusian Football Federation spokesman Alexander Aleinik said by telephone.

UEFA said in an emailed statement that "we are aware of this issue. As it stands, the game will go ahead as scheduled."

The food poisoning came a day after Luxembourg celebrated a rare competitive win, beating Macedonia 1-0 at home on Saturday. Belarus and Luxembourg are fourth and fifth respectively in Group C, both with four points from seven games. Neither can qualify for next year's tournament.

Also Monday, Belarusian newspaper Brestsky Kurier reported that 12 people from a Croatian handball club had been hospitalized in another suspected food poisoning incident in Belarus' western city of Brest. That case followed Croatian team PPD Zagreb's win over Meshkov Brest in the regional SEHA League on Sunday.

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