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Can Colombian football launder its past?

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Tim Vickery | 08:25 UK time, Monday, 1 October 2012

Veteran Colombian midfielder Gerardo Bedoya came up with something special for his record-breaking 41st sending off.

Playing for Santa Fe in the big Bogota derby against Millonarios, first, in full view of the referee, he flattened Jhonny Ramirez with an elbow.

The red card had been already brandished, but Bedoya was not finished. Before taking his leave, to his own subsequent mortification, he stuck a boot into the face of his prone opponent.

Some of the predecessors of Ramirez in the blue shirt of Millonarios are feeling similarly violated. Last week Felipe Gaitan, the club's new president, floated the idea of giving up the league titles won by Millonarios in 1987 and 88, the last two championship wins in their history. It has provoked a furious reaction from the coach and some of the players of that team. Elsewhere, though, the idea has met with a positive response, since the motives behind it are clearly noble.

Escobar paid the ultimate price for his own goal against the USA. Photo; AFP

At the time the chief shareholder of Millonarios was Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, known as 'el Mexicano,' one of the leading figures in the drug trade that was so ostentatiously powerful in Colombia at the time.

With a new shareholder structure and under fresh administration, it is admirable that Millonarios are keen to dissociate themselves from such a turbulent time in their country's history. The problem is, though, that the involvement of the major drug cartels was so widespread that the damage cannot be limited to one club.

Football had a huge appeal for the drug trade, for a number of reasons. Investing in clubs was good public relations, and also a big ego boost for the bosses. It also provided plenty of opportunities for laundering money - and for making some in betting scams. And some of the bosses were fans of the game living out a fantasy.

Millonarios, then, were probably not the worst offenders. America of Cali became the plaything of the local cartel. So rich that they became a kind of South American Real Madrid, signing big name players from all over the continent, they won the title for five years in a row before Millonarios interrupted their run in '87 and '88.

America bounced back, winning the next title in 1990 - the 1989 season had been scrapped after a referee was assassinated. Later America were placed on the so-called 'Clinton List,' drawn up by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control, which as a result of their links with the drug trade prevented them from having contact with financial institutions. This has been a factor in the club's slide into the second division.

The title that eluded America was the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League. They were beaten finalists three years in a row between 1985 and '87, and had to watch from the sidelines two years later when Atletico Nacional of Medellin, with links to their local drug cartel, became the first Colombian club to win the trophy. League champions in 1991 and '94, Nacional have already said that they are proud of the titles they won at the time and have no intention of relinquishing them.

It does not stop there. In the 1980s and 90s plenty of other Colombian clubs had ties with the drug trade. So much cash was sloshing around and so many quality foreigners were being brought in that for a while the Colombian league may have been as strong as any on the continent.

The Millonarios players of 87 and 88 are well aware that, however the whole thing was financed, they had to overcome some good opponents in order to win those league titles.

Perhaps here lies the problem with the current proposal - and at the moment it is no more than a proposal - to relinquish the titles. The golden age of boxing in the United States was marred by massive mafia manipulation, but the greatness of the fighters has not been called into question. Similarly, in strictly sporting terms, something interesting took place in Colombian football at that time.

The drug money brought an influx of foreign players who raised the standard of the domestic league. Nacional, who at the time fielded only Colombian players, found a home-based solution.

Under coach Francisco Maturana they forged something new; a mix of the short passing Argentine style and a touch of Brazilian flair that had always been part of the Colombian game, along with a high defensive line and a "sweeper-keeper" borrowed from the Holland side of the 1970s. When Maturana took charge of the national team he was able to add Carlos Valderrama to the mix, and the frizzy-haired playmaker became the fulcrum of the team, dictating a hypnotic, salsa-inspired rhythm from centrefield.

The team is mainly remembered for its failure in the 1994 World Cup, and the tragic assassination soon afterwards of defender Andres Escobar, who had scored an own goal in the tournament - an incident which brought to global attention the cartel-inspired chaos that Colombia was living at the time.

Those same pressures had caused the team to implode during USA 94. Outside the goldfish bowl of the World Cup, though, that Colombian side was a wonderful unit, capable of beating anyone. In 1993 they inflicted Argentina's first ever home defeat in World Cup qualification with an extraordinary 5-0 win, and they went to the United States 18 years ago having suffered just one defeat in their previous 34 matches.

It is entirely laudable that some in Colombian football seek to distance their clubs from the dark rule of the drug lords. But if all titles are relinquished, it is almost as if the Colombian game did not exist at this time - which is unfair on those who played it so well that they still stand as a reference for subsequent generations.

One of them is Andres Escobar. Removing from the history books the titles he won with Atletico Nacional would not seem to be an adequate memorial for someone who deserves to be remembered.


Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag;

I'd be fascinated to hear your thoughts on the deterioration of the Paraguayan national team. Having been quarter-finalists two years ago in South Africa, La Albirroja now look highly unlikely even to feature at the Brazil 2014 World Cup. Can you pinpoint exactly where it has gone wrong for them?
Rory Mitchinson

I think their current problems are entirely predictable. It was an incredible achievement for them to qualify for four consecutive World Cups. They've been punching above their weight for a while, and given the ultra-competitive nature of World Cup qualification in South America, they were riding for a fall this time.
The signs were there during last year's Copa America, when they reached the final without winning a single game. Coach Gerardo Martino jumped straight afterwards. He realised he'd taken them as far as he could. Changes were needed, but his replacement Francisco Arce betrayed his own lack of experience trying to make them too quickly. He was giving out international caps as if they were invites to his daughter's wedding. New coach Gerardo Pelusso has brought the old guard back, and will try to find a better blend between them and the youngsters, but he will have to do something special to get them back in contention for a place in Brazil, especially as the defensive unit really looks to be creaking.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    A good blog - although something seems to have happened with the formatting!

    I remember the Colombian teams of the 90s well - Asprilla, Rincon, Valderrama et al. They had flair and ability in abundance but in the end they were unable to deliver when it really mattered.

  • Comment number 2.

    Drugs are bad

  • Comment number 3.

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm K

  • Comment number 4.

    There is a superb documentary film on the drug era called "The two Escobars", couldn't recommend watching it enough

  • Comment number 5.

    What has the BBC got against football, yet another story tarnishing the name of football gain, this is news not a football blog.

    You must be really scraping the barrel for football news Tim.

    Is it not better to stick to talking about actual football like you usually do?

  • Comment number 6.

    Shadow Warrior - what are you talking about? Great article.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well if Football was to retrospectively take away trophies for success funded by dirty money, then there will be a lot of blank spaces in the history books.

    Perhaps Columbian football could adopt the fit and proper person test that the Premier League has?

    Using this has helped the English game to be run by the honorable Rupert Murdoch and brought in the likes of Shinawatra, Abramovich and Usmanov.

    Where there is money there will be crime. It will never change.

  • Comment number 9.

    Comment #4 Dr Kisch

    Couldn't agree more. Very good documentary. The story is too big to be condensed into a short blog.

  • Comment number 10.

    Escobar's death showed what is wrong with much of life. Escobar is dead, long live Escobar!

    Good blog, as always, Tim.

  • Comment number 11.

    @ T REEVES

    What am i talking about, i am talking about how much i would like to read about the actual game of football, you know when 22 players a ref a round ball played for 90 mins. The game where tactics were anylised, footballers abilities were spoke about, not sure if you remember that side of the game.

    Usually Tim writes good informative blogs about the football scene in south america where we get very little exposure.

    But as a bit of rant i am just totally sick and tired of the BBC writing about things that get news headlines and storys that goes on around football but are not really football but a side issue, yeah they may warrant some interest but really come on all that we see on the BBC day after day is stores about Joey Barton waffling on, this or that player who is a bad person and not fit to wear any club or country shirt because of off field antics, politics, FA's blah de Blah's and what ever twisted lines they can muster up to create non footballing stories.

    What ever happened to real football news, where is a good detailed article about the games this weekend, the actual football talk is getting less and less and the sensational line grabbing stories get the most space.

    Tired of it

  • Comment number 12.

    @Shadow Warrior

    I would agree that there has been a circus following football lately, the Terry case and handshakes etc, but I'd say this is actually quite a fascinating situation. Corruption has been at the core of football in some south american countries, even in Italy, I would actually see the fact that they're trying to do something about it in Colombia as a positive step, not a further tarnishment.

    For the record I don't agree with stripping these teams of their titles, the players won the games on the pitch, they shouldn't be held accountable for dodgy owners and referee assassinations, and as has been mentioned it would hardly be a way to remember Escobar who was an outstanding player, leader and professional by all accounts.

  • Comment number 13.

    Human history is build on examples just like this.

    You could say Europe should demolish everything that was made as a result of profits from slave trade.

  • Comment number 14.

    Chill out shadow warrior, this is about the actual game of football. We're all tactical geniuses in our own minds but it's really very tedious indeed to read about on a daily basis. I don't really care about how some 'hindsight genius' would've done a better job than some manager or another.

    There's an artistic quality to Tim's work that you just don't get elsewhere on the BBC. Great read as usual Tim. What a noble gesture by Millonarios, in contrast to the madness of Bedoya. The beauty of South American football!

  • Comment number 15.

    Tim - I'm sure you already know this: Andres Escobar's died after an altercation at a bar/nightclub with some local drug lords who took exception to him being out celebrating after the WC exit. I understood that they were upset to his 'disrespectful' response to their challenge and they shot him as he later left the club.

    Sadly, this doesn't fit the perfect media story of a targeted 'assassination' brought on by his own goal at the WC.

    Not belittling the impact/influence that Columbian drug industry had on the country and football team(s) - the pressure exerted on the team and management at the WC in 94 clearly affected decisions/performances.

  • Comment number 16.

    5 - in professional sport it's always tricky to seperate the standard of play from the financial aspect - usually where there is money there is the chance of quality.

    I don't agree at all that this blog besmirches the name of football - after all, as Maturana never tires of saying, it wasn't football that killed Andres Escobar - it was society.

    If anything, the blog is more of a tribute to Maturana, Escobar, Valderrama and company.

  • Comment number 17.

    This is not having a go at Tims blogs as i said usually i like his articles above most the others, but it just seems recently the news on the BBC has been about anything other than football.

    I am sure if you put any club under the micro scope then you will find something untoward, isnt Man U supposed to be making massive profits from shirt production from sweat shops and cheap labour, is Chelsea's money all legit ?

    The media is turning football into type of soap opera, i dont really disagree with this particular blog but i usually enjoy reading Tims blog as he normally keeps it down to footballing issues and whats going on team against team and world cup preparations in South America and is usually a bit of fresh air.

    The BBC really needs to stop making false headlines, i would imagine that most followers of football would prefer to see some more positive news about football, it was a great weekend of football but again the top stories are about things not really going on on the pitch.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think the blog highlights some very interesting questions about the influence of off-field activities on events on the pitch.

    There almost certainly isn't a 'right' answer here.

    For me personally there are often things I find unpalatable about football but nevertheless it is still a sport I love greatly.

  • Comment number 19.

    Great Column as always Tim, a few comments, When Nacional won the league in 94 Pablo escobar had been dead for a year and the Cartel had more or stopped operating as such and pulled out of football. Escobar Himself was a Medellin (DIM) supporter, even burried with their flag (see the viedo on youtube of when his body was exhumed for DNA checks) and he poured money in to them as well, but they just couldnt help being rubbish, but they had a great squad including (Zambrano, Castro, Pareja, Diego Osorio, etc.) and many other teams also had loads of money come in, and it seems the only teams which would be penalized would be the ones who actually were succesful.

  • Comment number 20.

    The other thing is that to say that Colombia still receives loads of money through Drug trafficking and a lot still goes in to Football. I honestly think that Football in Colombia is corrupt to the core, I think it is terribly dodgy how Alvaro Fina remained in charge of the National Federation even though they failed in every tournament at every level under him, and even though I support Nacional there must be a conflict of interests in a team being owned by the League and cup sponsor. still its been proved that money doesnt buy success and that Millonarios Team of 87 and 88 was an excellent team who beat excellent opposition, and most of their players werent expensive imports but home grown, to remember just a few Iguara, Ruben D. Hernandez, "Gambeta " Estrada, Gamero, Juarez, etc. and they beat an excellent Nacional Team and an even better America team those years, as well as really good Santafe, Junior, Caldas teams so I honstly dont think they have any right to take away what others earned...

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Tim, thanks for the interesting blog. What do you make of the current Millonarios team and their chances this year? I was in Colombia last month and saw a couple of their games in the league and the Copa Sudamericana. They looked very comfortable, good at the back and with the ability to break quickly and score goals. Do you think they have the ability to win these competitions, or will they come unstuck in the later rounds against better opposition?

  • Comment number 23.

    22 - I've also been impressed - as I often am with Hernan Torres sides - then last week they lost 8-0 to Real Madrid, which may have only been a friendly, but was still a huge humiliation. Conclusion - be wary of rushing to judgement!

  • Comment number 24.

    Tim,
    This alone:
    "Under coach Francisco Maturana they forged something new; a mix of the short passing Argentine style and a touch of Brazilian flair that had always been part of the Colombian game, along with a high defensive line and a "sweeper-keeper" borrowed from the Holland side of the 1970s. When Maturana took charge of the national team he was able to add Carlos Valderrama to the mix, and the frizzy-haired playmaker became the fulcrum of the team, dictating a hypnotic, salsa-inspired rhythm from centrefield."

    ...Makes me wish someone like yourself could one day write a book about that great Colombian side 1990 (warts and all). If you do, I can guarantee you I'd pay whatever price you see fit.

    Take care.

  • Comment number 25.

    24 - one of the fascinating things about that Colombia side is that their high line back four flew in the face of what the South American giants were doing at the time - both Brazil and Argentina were going with a back three with a sweeper.

    A book on it? Don't know - did a few pages on it for World Soccer magazine a few years back - one of the pieces I most enjoyed writing.

  • Comment number 26.

    @24 El Presidente
    I think the book about Colombia's high defensive line and sweeper-keeper has already been written.

    It was published in June 1990 by a 38 year old author, resident on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.

    I believe his name was Mr R Milla, although he received considerable help from a Mr R Higuita.

  • Comment number 27.

    Tim and friends, sorry for sort of changing the subject, but it was a very sad weekend in Brazil, as if football could get any worse than it is here.

    Saturday, Nautico fans took a banner to the stadium which read "[They] won't bring us down (relegate) by the whistle", which was a complaint against their last match's ref against Fluminense (the referees things is another issue). The referee in charge of this match (against Atletico Goiainense), decided he wouldn't begin the match until the banner was taken away, because it was "offensive" (a representative of the refereeing comittee supported that notion) and we have a "supporter statute" (an authoritarian regulation "for" the supporters) that prohibits "offensive and racist banners". It took 18 minutes until the fans conceded, but after the match started, they quickly brought it up again.

    Sunday, a Celtic fan was surrounded by Corinthians "supporters" in the Pacaembu VIP area (expensive tickets) demanding him to change shirts because his Celtic shirt was partially GREEN, Palmeiras' main color. Police "helped" him to wear a "better" colored sweater so he wouldn't have any problem. (I've heard today Andre Rizek from SporTV saying two argentinian Boca fans had a similar issue in the Libertadores final, without wearing any sort of blue or yellow - people just noticed they spoke spanish, so they couldn't be there!).

    Yesterday, in Porto Alegre, before Gremio vs Santos, a Gremio fan was recording something with his camera (I don't know exactly what), when the police noticed they were being recorded, arrested him with violence (slapping him in the face and dragging him around), throwing his camera on the ground and (softly) deleting his recording He was taken to a special police room in the stadium, where the judge on duty (don't know if that's the right term) dismissed him and the officer. On his way out, he was threatened and told to go away (his club ticket was broken and he couldn't get into the stadium). Being assaulted by the police just because you're recording their actions isn't something new, but this time it was in the stadium whereabouts (and it links up with the next story)

    And finally, the final act of violence in the day, in Curitiba, a 13 year old girl was surrounded by a bunch of thugs after requesting the shirt of Lucas Moura, who was on his way out of the pitch, who spit on Lucas and hit her father (who was protecting her). Lucas was playing for São Paulo against Coritiba, which the father, the girl and the bunch of thugs supported. Near the girl there were some police officers, who, unlike their Porto Alegre buddies, did nothing to protect the girl, just stood there watching.

    Most of what I said here can be found in Brazilian news sites, blogs and journalists' Twitter accounts (in portuguese)

  • Comment number 28.

    By the way, Tim, I've been hoping for a book from you for some time too. But a more mainstream one.

    You should call it "World Cup Brazil" and release it around the time of the World Cup draw, which gives you 14 months to get a move on.

    And if it's going to sell in the UK it should have chapters about Brazil's 2014 venues and their footballing or other history, a chapter about 1950, several chapters about British teams at the World Cup (England's matches v South American opposition and Scotland's 1978 adventure in Argentina).

    And chapters about Brazilian footballers who are well-known in the UK. Pele would be one. The Mavericks would be another - about Juninho, Emerson, Robinho. The Playboys would be another - about Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Jo but also Garrincha for the fossils like me. The Believers would be a chapter about Kaka, Oscar, Cafu, Jorginho and the other religious ones. There is some serious social analysis that you could fit in here: how does Neymar consider himself an observant Christian when he has already sired a child outside that faith's structures? And I'd love a chapter about The Outcasts - Barbosa and anyone else who has basically been ostracised and expelled from Brazilian society.

    You'll never get a better opportunity than the 2014 World Cup to get this done.

  • Comment number 29.

    @26 yakubusdiet

    Haha. One of the funniest moments I can remember in football. Higuita took eccentric to a whole new level - he is also famous for the "Scorpion kick" save a few years later.

  • Comment number 30.

    Nice article as usual Tim. If you are going to write a book in time for the 2014 World Cup, you must have a chapter on the first winners of the Copa Libertadores. Peñarol de Montevideo with its stars like Pedro Rocha, Alberto Spencer and Juan Joya. Also Santos, with Didí, Vavá, Coutinho, Pelé and Jairzinho, as well as Gilmar, Djahlma Santos and Nilton Santos. Great photos of those games, and even some recorded film.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hi Tim,

    I just wondered where your favourite ground in South America is?

    I only had a chance to visit a couple but found them to be a bit more idiosyncratic than European and Asian grounds which now often look pretty much the same inside! I especially loved the ground at Cuzco, and as an honourary 'U' obviously the Olympic Stadium in Santiago has a special place in my heart despite it's horrific past. It's a shame in some ways progress has led to the standardisation of grounds in England with Anfield, Goodison and Upton Park all under threat eventually all EPL games will probably be played in modern sterile environments.

  • Comment number 32.

    Good blog. shadow warrior - can't see your point, it ends on a good note.

    I had a wee chuckle at the answer to the email question though and the line that Tim used re. Francisco Arce handing out international caps as if they were invites to his daughter's wedding.

    Now, if I were the current England manager, whatever the likelihood of my handing a recall to say John Terry, I certainly wouldn't be inviting him to my daughter's wedding.

  • Comment number 33.

    Wonderful post!

    Don't agree with the proposal of giving up the titles because as another commented that the same could be said about the Man City's, PSG's, and Anzhi's of the European leagues, only its a different product they make a profit from: oil.

    This truly seems to be a Golden Generation in South American football considering that the national team had to compete with an Argentina with Maradona and a Brazil with Romario.

    Is there a league in South America that is on its way up in terms of providing more competitive football?

  • Comment number 34.

    As a football fan living in Colombia during the 80s and 90s I do believe every club should offer to give up any titles won with money from drug trafficking. It's not only the dirty money, the 30,000 violent deaths a year that resulted from the drug business should be enough to shame any club into trying to clean their past. Besides, it would be a good way to tell the rest of the world that we want to go in a very different direction.

  • Comment number 35.

    Tim,

    Would just like to know your reaction to comments on diving this week. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has provoked response saying that Luis Suarez was denied a penalty on Saturday against Norwich because of his resputation for diving.

    Sergio Aguero also raised questions by claiming referees give unfair advantages in the penalty area to English players, based on their nationality.

    It is an ironic coincidence that the two subjects of supposed unfair officiating involved here are South American.

    From the games I saw in the World Cup in 2010, I thought that Brazil were the worst for play-acting and feigning injury. From watching 6 games in 2005 from the South American World Cup qualifiers and Copa Nissan Sudamerica, I thought that players were just notably over the top, getting standard free-kicks, but still rolling around even though play has stopped with no yellow cards brandished.

    I am sure you will have further evidence to support/oppose my comments. Do you think that this Suarez case was unique, or do you think that officials from round the world are becoming attached to a possible idea that South Americans in general have a reputation for playacting, which affects their refereeing decisions? Is that the case in South American club football, and if so, is anything been done to cut out the level of simulation by the authorities?

  • Comment number 36.

    I know that i digressTim, but as a pundit on all matters regarding Brazilian football, why are players like Michel Bastos (Lyon), Luis Gustavo (Bayern Munich) and Diego Ribas (Wolfsburg) being ignored by the Brazil national team?
    They are playing very well in Europe, have the training, ability and competitiveness within the Euro leagues. This will be vital during the world cup. They would do a better job in the current Brazil set up..

  • Comment number 37.

    An interesting article as ever Tim. Most sports hacks could learn a thing or three from this guy.

  • Comment number 38.

    Looking forward to the book, Tim! ;-D

  • Comment number 39.

    Afternoon Tim,
    I'm hoping you may be able to shed some light on something I have found fairly striking in terms of team selection for Brazil.

    Before (and now after) Dunga took charge, brazilian players from eastern europe were not considered let alone heard of. Dunga of course broke the mould by selecting the likes of Vagner Love and Elano. Why is it that other coaches ignore the talent in eastern europe? Surely there should be consideration for the likes of fernandinho, willian, welliton and now romulo who has moved to Spartak?

  • Comment number 40.

    39 - Fernandinho and Willian have both appeared for Brazil recently - Romulo was in the starting line up but has now suffered a long term injury.

  • Comment number 41.

    Lots of legitimate businesses have used money from ill gotten gains, knowingly or not.

  • Comment number 42.

    Tim,... or anyone?

    does anyone have any knowledge on Jhonny Vifara? He played for Portsmouth and although the premiership at the time was a bit too big a jump for him he was a solid if unspectacular player. I met him one night in the pub and he seemed a thoroughly decent chap. He professed to homesickness but also admitted that his sale to Portsmouth was a fait a complit... saying no was not an option! I understand he's back in Colombia?

    Gofeet

  • Comment number 43.

    42 - Viafara is with Independiente Medellin - saw him at the weekend go down 2-0 to Deportivo Cali - 33 but still getting up and down!

  • Comment number 44.

    Tim, regarding a comment on the last World Football Phone In, about Iron Maiden´s mascot Eddie, being used by Vasco da Gama... yes, its true of course. Vasco fans from "Torcida Jovem" have been using Iron Maiden´s Eddie for some 20 years at least.

    here, a giant banner (bandeirão) with Eddie in it, holding a Vasco da Gama flag instead of the british flag (its exactly the same Eddie from the single The Trooper)

    here is a video (from the Iron Maiden 2001 DVD Rock In Rio), when the band itself goes to a Vasco vs Madureira match and comment about Eddie being used as Vasco´s mascot, and also show one of the huge Eddie banners.

    Notice that Steve Harris (leader of the band), was scouted by Wally St Pier and asked to train for West Ham United. He almost became a professional footballer, but decided to live from music instead.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf2MmYtRlkY

  • Comment number 45.

    40.At 17:41 2nd Oct 2012, Tim Vickery - BBC Sport wrote:
    39 - Fernandinho and Willian have both appeared for Brazil recently - Romulo was in the starting line up but has now suffered a long term injury.
    _______________

    Thanks for the rather succinct reply. What I had meant is that why is it that historically Brazil managers have tended to ignore the eastern european contingent? Is this likely to change?

    Eg Willian has had 1 cap for Brazil in 2011, Fernandinho has only played 1 game in 2012 for Brazil. Given that Romulo moved to Spartak (obviously his injury affects this) will this mean he will be ignored from selection?

  • Comment number 46.

    Tim,

    All this sounds like something from Scarface, it's crazy to me that these sort of things have gone on and maybe thats me just being ignorant to it all but your article made for a great read all the same.

    What's staggering is the impact that it had and still has on the team, the style of play the lifestyle and history behind Columbia is mainly down to this, yes dont get me wrong some of the things that happened is awful and nobody should die becuase of football, but the memories i have of the country and style of football they play is from the 80's and 90's is one of great flair and skill, so out of something bad grew something good also.

  • Comment number 47.

    Bonjourno Signori!

    Are you going to the game tonight? It should be an open game. City are leaking goals and will surely attack, Dortmund are not the best defensively but good going forward. I can see a 3-3 thriller on the cards.

  • Comment number 48.

    Colombian people are the most wonderful, passionate, friendly, beautiful people I have ever met. No wonder they want to erase the stigma and the knee-jerk prejudice that have plagued their recent history. They are such warm and friendly people, say "hola!" to a Colombian today!

  • Comment number 49.

    47. Eduard_Streltsov_Ghost

    Bonjourno Eduard :)

    yeah im going tonight mate, i too expect goals and couldnt predict the score, cant see 6 at the Etihad maybe 3 or 4 im going for a 3-1 City.

  • Comment number 50.

    @45

    no disrespect to eastern european leagues, but historically those leagues have not been the strongest, which may be the reason not many players are picked by the brazilian national team. the problem not being that wilian and fernaldinho not being good enough, but the opposition players they play against aren't at the same standard as some of the tougher leagues

  • Comment number 51.

    ESG @ 45

    This is just an assumption, but surely the perceived strength of the league they play in is a major factor in whether or not the Brazilians would be considered for the national side? It is only really in the last 5 or so years (i.e. when Dunga was coach) that I would have placed the strength of the 7 or 8 clubs at the pinnacle of the ex-USSR states' leagues alongside the likes of the top (for example) Portugese, Dutch, or French league sides.

    Indeed, an interesting and topical parallel for me would be Gary Hooper. Scorer of a very well taken finish last night at the home of Spartak Moscow, yet seemingly very far down the pecking order in the minds of many English supporters when they were considering who the striking options should be for the Euro 2012 tournament. A more natural finisher and better all round striking option in my opinion than the likes of Grant Holt, who was widely supported for a place in the squad.

    For me this is clearly based on the perceived quality of the league he plays in rather than his ability as a footballer, and it will only be if he is 'tested' in the EPL that he would ever (in my opinion) be selected for a squad, never mind a start.

    Despite the massive amounts of money behind some clubs in the Eastern leagues, I still think many lack the overall first team and squad strength as things stand to make it out of their Champions League groups - probably with the exception of Shaktar - but I expect within 3 or 4 years it will be commonplace to have at least a few 'Eastern' teams in the knock-out stages most seasons.

    I also have a feeling that since Menezes seems keen to have as many ‘home’ based players as possible in many of his squads, perhaps this counted against them also. After all, the further east you go, the further you are travelling for games...

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm just glad Tim finally got a new profile picture...

 

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