- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL (AP) - Spain’s players have denied that a robbery at a hotel in the first week of the Confederations Cup was linked to a party with women from outside the team’s traveling party.

The Spanish federation has acknowledged that six of its players were robbed at the team hotel. But Spain defender Jordi Alba said Tuesday that reports in Brazilian media are “totally false.”

Teammate Sergio Ramos said the reports are “attempting to discredit with lies a generation of football players who have shown themselves to be the best.”

“You can’t play with a country with a reputation like Spain that has a super-clean image,” Ramos said. “You also can’t play with families, with the children we have, with girlfriends. To put all of this in doubt by inventing a serious story. In this regard, I hope the law does what is merited.”

The Spanish Football Federation issued a statement Tuesday “categorically” denying the reports, calling the allegations damaging to “the honor of the players and their families and friends.”

The Spanish soccer federation, which had previously declined to give specifics about the incident, issued a statement late Monday responding to reports in the Brazilian media that the theft was connected to a team party following a 2-1 victory over Uruguay in Recife nine days ago.

“It’s in the hands of the police,” Ramos said. “We are relaxed about it. Our consciences are very clean. … We are not here to talk about parties. We’re here to play our game, which has made us world champions and champions of Europe. And now we have to win this tournament. We are not here to comment more about people who lie.”

Brazilian media, citing employees of the hotel and security officials, reported that women from outside the Spanish traveling party and alcohol were involved in the party at the team hotel in northeastern Brazil.

“Six national team players were the subject of a robbery at the team’s hotel in Recife … This was reported in a timely manner to the Brazilian police,” the Spanish federation said. “This statement is not an attack against the organizing committee, nor against FIFA, nor the country of Brazil, which has welcomed the Spanish team. An event like this could take place anywhere in the world, including Spain.

“Since then, a series of verbal attacks on our players has been published, which the RFEF totally rejects and profoundly condemns. They damage the honor of the players and their family and friends.”

The statement concluded by saying the only aim of the reports was to “cause harm to the good name of the players on the team, who have demonstrated good conduct, professionalism and exemplary behavior for many years.”

Spain defender Gerard Pique, one the players reported by Brazilian media to have been involved, called the reports “a total lie.”

World Cup winner Spain faces Italy on Thursday in the Confederations Cup semifinals, hoping to reach the final on Sunday and win the only major tournament title it lacks. Spain won the 2010 World Cup and the last two European Championships.

Security has long been a problem in Brazil, where muggings, carjackings and armed robberies are facts of daily life. It will be a major concern as the country prepares to host next year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Nationwide protests in Brazil during the two-week Confederations Cup _ a warm-up tournament for next year’s World Cup _ have focused on the country’s poor infrastructure, poor schools and decaying health care system with citizens questioning why $13 billion is being spent on stadiums and infrastructure for the World Cup.

Last week, the wife of Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar said she was robbed at gunpoint in Fortaleza, where Brazil played Mexico earlier in the day. In the capital Brasilia, the hotel room of at least one journalist was robbed before the tournament’s opening match of the Confederations Cup.

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