In anticipation of the 2014 World Cup, I have done a series of posts on the World Cup. I have already given my predictions, a brief history of the World Cup and some shocking moments in the tournament over the years. This next post is about one of the most tragic moments in World Cup history, except it didn’t actually take place at the tournament.
Going into the 1994 World Cup, great things were expected of the Colombian national team. They finished top of their group and went undefeated during World Cup Qualifications. They defeated Argentina twice on their way to the World Cup, the last victory being a 5-0 thrashing. The stage was set but it wasn’t meant to be.
There were rumors leading up to the tournament that the drug cartels were influencing or wanted to influence team selection. Certain cartels were backing certain players and wanted those players in the spotlight at the World Cup. The national team coach received death threats before the tournament, this and other factors affected the team and they suffered a shock loss in their opening match.
Colombia’s second game of the tournament was against the United States. This was a game that the Colombians were expected to win and they needed to if they wanted to progress in the tournament. The Colombians started brightly but bad luck struck in the 35th minute when defender Andres Escobar unluckily turned the ball into his own net. The Americans went on to win the match 2-1.
Their third game of the tournament was against Switzerland. The two earlier defeats meant that Colombia’s chances of progressing in the tournament were very slim. They would have to defeat Switzerland and hope that the United States defeated Romania. However it was not to be, Colombia defeated Switzerland but Romania won their match against the Americans and the Colombians were sent packing.
Six days after scoring an Own Goal against his country, defender Andres Escobar was shot to death outside a bar in Colombia. It was a widely held belief that his murder was retaliation for the Own Goal he scored. As it turned out, his death was not a result of the Own Goal but the Own Goal might have played a part in it.
The ESPN documentary below sheds some light on this, the Colombian team, life in Colombia then and more importantly the two Escobars.