As a huge fan of Narcos on Netflix, I was very curious to see the link between Pablo Escobar and the world of soccer. The Two Escobars highlights the intersection of sports, drug trafficking, and politics in Colombia during the rise of Colombian soccer. The Two Escobars provides insight into the connection between the two Escobars, star defender Andres and Pablo and Pablo’s broader connection to soccer.
The rise of Colombian soccer during this time period was attributed to the increase in talented players, the star player being Andres on the National Team. The National Team could now afford such expensive and talented players through their partnership with Pablo Escobar, one of the richest drug lords at the time.
The rise of soccer in Colombia instilled hope in the nation. For many it was their sole means to escape poverty and then maybe even one day utilize that money to do good in their country. Moreover, in a nation plagued by so much ongoing violence it was a positive means to unify the country as a whole and a way to improve their image internationally.
During the early 90s, the National Team became unbeatable. They won numerous matches and soon became the best team on the South American continent. With the 1994 World Cup approaching, they now had the opportunity to become the best team in the world. Unfortunately for the team, this World Cup tournament led to far more woes than wins. Colombia lost their first match against Romania and now their only hope was to beat the U.S. This completely changed the course of Andres’s life as he made one terrible mistake, one that ended up costing him his life. Sadly, instead of preventing America from scoring he ended up accidentally kicking the ball in. Colombia ended up losing to the U.S. 2-1 and got kicked out of the tournament in the beginning stage.
The loss of this game led to a lot of heartache for Colombia and more specifically Colombian soccer. Not only did this game lead to the death of Andres but it also led to the death of Colombian soccer. By the 1998 world cup, Colombia’s soccer ranking dropped from 4 to 34 and in 2010 14/18 of their teams were close to bankruptcy. Since then, Colombia managed to qualify for the World Cup in 2014 and 2018. I am looking forward to seeing if they will be able to qualify for 1 of the 4.5 spots available for the South American countries in the next World Cup.