Masked men grabbed Italian soccer player Ignazio Barbagallo — who was on the pitch playing in the final match of his career last week — and tossed him in a helicopter, a stunning scene that appeared to those in attendance like a brazen kidnapping.
But Barbagallo, who played for Citta Di Viagrande of the Sicily League, turned out never to have been in harm’s way. One of the masked men left a sign on the field to indicate the whole ordeal was a hoax.
The sign read, “SERVICIO ELIMINAZIONE GIOCATORI FINITI,” which means “Elimination for finished players,” according to The Sun.
The stunt didn’t appear to put league officials in a joking mood, however.
FOX Sports Italia reported Citta Di Viagrande was fined more than $220 for the incident. The team was also suspended from playing until June.