July 17 (Reuters) - Brazilian police have freed the mother of the country’s World Cup soccer player Taison after she was kidnapped by a gang in southern Brazil, the officer who led the investigation told Reuters on Tuesday.
Rosangela Barcellos Freda, 58, was kidnapped on Monday by a gang who delivered flowers to her house before grabbing her and bundling her into a getaway car, Rafael Lopes said.
However, witnesses saw the incident and called the police, who quickly tracked her down to a hideout in Monte Bonito, a small town near Brazil’s border with Uruguay.
Police raided the home and found Freda tied to a chair. They arrested three men and one woman, one of whom was armed.
“They knew who she was and that was why they went after her,” Lopes said in reference to the player, who was in the city after spending a month in Russia with Brazil’s World Cup squad, where he did not feature as they lost in the quarter-finals.
“One of them (the kidnappers) tried to grab his gun but I think he wanted to escape. They were all calm, there was no violence and no ransom.”
Taison, a 30-year old left winger who began his career at nearby Internacional of Porto Alegre and now plays in Ukraine for Shakhtar Donetsk, is not the first Brazilian player to have a family member kidnapped.
The mother of former Real Madrid and Manchester City winger Robinho was held for several weeks in 2004.
That incident appeared to spawn copycat crimes with the mothers of several other players, including former Porto forward Luis Fabiano, and Brazilian striker Grafite, kidnapped and released unharmed in the months that followed. (Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ken Ferris)