FIFA World Cup: The two extremes of Colombian football

Kashinath BhattacharjeeA famous victory and an infamous murder. Two incidents that have made, and marred Colombian football history like nothing else.

The first one: a 5-0 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires in 1993 World Cup qualifiers, following which even Pele was of the opinion that the Carlos Valderrama-led side would be one of the favourites to win the 1994 World Cup.

The second one was the murder of Andres Escober, a defender who had committed the ‘crime’ of scoring an own goal against the USA, the hosts of the 1994 World Cup, in their group match which virtually ended the Los Cafeteros’ hopes of progressing to the knockouts. The assassin, Humberto Castro Munoz, after a midnight brawl outside a pub in Medellin, shot him six times on July 2, 1994.

Andres Escobar
Andres Escobar

The tournament was still in progress. A stunned football world mourned the death of the defender with 120,000 people attending his funeral. When he came back to Colombia after the team’s disastrous performance in the tournament, he wrote in an editorial in a Bogota Newspaper El Tiempo, signing off with the line: “See you soon, because life does not end here.”

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If only he would have known what had been awaiting him a few days later.

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