Ecuador federation condemns players seen at NY strip club

The Ecuador Football Federation (FEF) on Monday condemned the behaviour of several of its players, including Chelsea-bound teenager Kendry Páez, for going to a strip club during the international break, but did not issue any punishment.

Video images have circulated on social media since Monday showing Ecuador internationals Robert Arboleda, 32, Gonzalo Plata, 23, and Páez, 16, at a club in New York.

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The footage is believed to have been taken on Friday, one day after Ecuador’s 2-0 friendly win over Guatemala in New Jersey.

In one of the clips, São Paulo defender Arboleda is reportedly showing a wad of dollar bills while in the background a stripper is dancing in front of Páez, who remains seated next to Al Sadd’s Plata.

The FEF did not name the players in a statement but said that the squad was given time off on Friday “between 14:00 until 20:30, which was fully complied with.”

It then added: “Given the facts of public knowledge… Images of events contrary to the values and principles that we defend and promote as an institution have been disseminated, which will be the subject of analysis for future call-ups.”

The FEF, however, has not said if the players will be punished.

While the episode has caused a scandal in Ecuador, with Páez a minor, Arboleda resorted to sarcasm and wrote on Instagram stories as reported in El Universo: “From now on, on my days off I will read the Bible because one can’t even have fun…”

Plata wrote on Instagram stories: “They don’t like anything, it’s bad to have fun” but deleted the message soon after.

Ecuador sports minister, Andrés Guschmer, says Páez is “very affected” by what has happened.

“I feel sorry for him, I spoke to him,” Guschmer said. “Emotionally he’s very affected. I told him, not as a minister but as someone who knows him and cares for him, that you learn from mistakes. That he has to re-establish his image and his professional role.

“That he cannot commit these types of mistakes because it can be very costly. He’s only 16. He’s playing with adults. They make you feel like adults and at times make you do things that are for adults but he’s just a teenager.”

Páez, a midfielder, was on the bench for Thursday’s game but came on as a substitute in Sunday’s 2-0 friendly loss to Italy, Ecuador’s last game before this summer’s Copa América.

Chelsea announced in June 2023 it had reached a deal to sign Páez from Independiente del Valle and that he would join the club when he turns 18 on May 4, 2025.