AN Italian Serie A player has been arrested after being caught carrying a gun in a car during a routine police stop in his native Uruguay.
Nicolas Schiappacasse, on loan to Uruguayan team Penarol from Sassuolo, was held after officers discovered a concealed 9mm pistol.
Local reports in his homeland say he has told investigators he was taking the weapon to a Penarol supporter who had requested it, hours ahead of a friendly between the Montevideo-based side and rivals Nacional.
The 23-year-old forward, a former Uruguay youth international who was signed by Atletico Madrid as a teenager before moving to Italy, remains in police custody while prosecutors decide whether to charge him.
Cops have yet to officially name Schiappacasse, one of four people in the car that was stopped, but have released photos showing him being handcuffed by the side of the road by a police vehicle as well as the weapon they had seized.
The footballer is understood to have been on his way to see Penarol play against Nacional when he was held with two women aged 22 and 18 and a second aged 22 who was known to the police.
Local reports say he was planning on handing the weapon over to a Penarol supporter once he was inside the stadium.
The gun is said to have been discovered in a coat on Schiappacasse’s lap.
A spokesman for traffic police in Uruguay confirmed: “A firearm has been seized and four people arrested during a police stop on Km81 of the Ruta Balnearia national road.”
Penarol club president Ignacio Ruglio said as news emerged of the arrest of Schiappacasse, who was about to agree a new six-month loan with the South American club: “I am going to wait to find out properly what happened.
“He’s not a signed Penarol player but he is linked to the club. We will know what type of measures we have to take when things are confirmed.”
The footballer, who amassed 80 caps and 35 goals for different Uruguay youth teams over six years and is the all-time top Uruguay under-20 team scorer, is due to be held behind bars until at least later today.
Weapons trafficking carries a maximum prison sentence in Uruguay of six years.
As well as Atletico de Madrid, Schiappacasse also had loan spells at Serie A club Parma and newly-promoted Portuguese first division side Famalicao before signing for Sassuolo on October 5 2020 on a permanent basis.
Penarol won Wednesday night’s friendly against their arch-rivals 1-0.
Uruguay’s Ministry of Interior is currently waging a fierce battle against football violence in the South American country.
A Nacional supporter was shot dead on January 6. The four people arrested have been described as Penarol fans.
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