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Switzerland Just Caused An International Incident Over Golf Balls

The banner in the house of the Swiss ambassador to Venezuela about balls accidentally thrown into the property was taken way too seriously.

Posted on June 18, 2015, at 4:51 p.m. ET

A banner placed in front of the Swiss Ambassador to Venezuela's house is the cause of what may be the highest-profile tiff over golf balls in diplomatic history.

Can stray #golf balls cause a war between Switzerland and Venezuela? http://t.co/EpBSlWFT0F

"Dear golfer: According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, this residency is Swiss territory," the sign declares.

The Swiss ambassador's house is next to the posh Caracas Country Club in one of the wealthiest areas of the city. And it's golf course has become something of a nuisance to the Swiss diplomat.

Suiza: Pelotas de golf desviadas en Venezuela violan Convención de Viena http://t.co/jSSHcKxHiI #nacionalEC

"Throwing balls into this residency is a DANGER to any person who is in Swiss territory and a VIOLATION to the Convention of Vienna," the sign continues. "If a golf ball hurts or kills anyone on Swiss soil, it will be the sole responsibility of the player and the Golf Federation."

Although Swiss Ambassador Sabine Ulmann declined to comment to Reuters, Venezuela's Golf Association took the issue really seriously.

Venezuelan Golf Federation

In a statement published by the Golf Federation, the organization said it is "astonished" by the sign.

Venezuelan Golf Federation
Whoever wrote that banner has not checked the Vienna Convention properly because [the convention] does not say that diplomatic foreign houses are indeed Swiss territory, but what [Vienna's convention] states is that these houses shouldn't be violated and that they should be protected by the welcoming state.

Although the tone of the banner does not make clear whether it's a joke, the Caracas Country Club's statement gave five reasons why golfers had nothing to do with hurting diplomatic relations.

@moisesnaim @efectonaim colocarlo en Genialidades Memorables cartel colocado Embajadora Suiza en Caracas Country Club

1. The Caracas Country Club was there before the Swiss ambassador’s house.

"The Swiss government knew that [the house] was next to a golf field so there are minor sport accidents risks that weren’t properly addressed as a danger so [the Swiss government] voluntarily took the risks."

2. Golfers have a third-party insurance

So no worries, the Swiss are potentially covered if anything happens.

3. Golfers do not mean to hurt anyone

"Nobody sane would think that golfers would intentionally hit the ball to cause damage… their aiming skills can’t be that good."

4. Why is Switzerland reacting like this if they also play golf?

"We are surprised by this exaggerated reaction since golf is played in Switzerland and has been the home of many championships, including the World Cup of amateur golf."

5. It also happens to other diplomats

There are other diplomatic missions nearby.

"We would like to suggest — for Switzerland to preserve the high prestige the country has internationally — to remove as soon as possible the disconcerting banner we are talking about," the Caracas Country Club asks.

On Twitter, Venezuelans are referring to this episode as a "diplomatic war" between Switzerland and Venezuela.

¿Estamos tontos o que? El golf crea un incidente diplomático entre Suiza y Venezuela - Madridiario http://t.co/oIMgNM4hfA

Are we fools or what? Golf creates a diplomatic incident between Switzerland and Venezuela.

"Glad our international conventions are being exercised for the good," someone commented on Facebook.

Facebook

"Golf balls generate problems between Switzerland and Venezuela."

Pelotas de golf genera problema entre Suiza y Venezuela - Diario Correo http://t.co/K6LUXjugSf

Some even talked about the "golf war." (We aren't sure if they meant for it to be a pun on "Gulf War," but we appreciate it nonetheless.)

'Guerra del golf' entre Suiza y el Country Club de Caracas: Curioso incidente entre la embajadora de Suiza en ... http://t.co/pZEejIiX26

"Golf war" between Switzerland and Caracas Country Club: curious incident between the Swiss ambassador in...

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