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England lose event, pride, underwear...

sports Updated: Jun 30, 2010 00:00 IST

Cleaning staff at the luxury hotel where England stayed during the World Cup stole football shirts, a medal and even underwear from players.

Police spokeswoman Junior Metsi said cash was taken — about £500 (Rs 35,000) — but the thieves seemed most interested in souvenirs, such as a United States shirt an England player received in the customary post-match trade. A medal awarded by Fifa and underwear also disappeared during a spree which began on 21 June.

The thefts were not reported to police until Saturday.

Metsi said police solved the case within a day, searching the homes of staff at the hotel near Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg.

“Everything that was stolen was recovered and they [the thieves] are now behind bars,” she said.

On Sunday, a special World Cup court convicted five hotel workers of the thefts. They were sentenced to three years in prison and fined 6,000 rand (£524 or Rs 36,500).

Metsi would not name the players from whom items were stolen.

England made it to the round of 16, but exited on Sunday after a 4-1 loss to Germany.

The team was due to fly back to England late Monday.