I watched ‘The Two Escobars‘, a nearly 2-hour long documentary based around the 1994 Colombian national football (soccer) team and on the shooting of Colombian star, Andres Escobar. He was shot and killed in his car outside a nightclub in Colombia, days after returning home from the 1994 FIFA World Cup. In a pivotal World Cup group stage match against the United States, he accidentally scored an own-goal that ultimately denied them from advancing to the next round. At the time, Columbia was ranked 4th in the world and were heavily favored to win the tournament.
The first vague memories I have of this particular Colombian football squad was while I was visiting my grandmother in Mexico. I was eight years old, so I stayed home watching a lot of television. The World Cup had just commenced and my father would tape (via good ol’ VHS) all of the group stage matches. I would watch the matches with him and the family and whenever I was bored. I recall watching some of Colombia’s matches because of Carlos Valderrama‘s hair; it was quite unique. I remember watching portions of the match between the United States and Colombia, including the own-goal by Andres Escobar.
When we got back to the States a few weeks later, I remember watching on the news that Andres had been shot and killed. Sadly, I had only remembered him for the own-goal he scored, so while I felt bad for him, my main thoughts were “Wow. Football is pretty serious.” Since then, I always associated his death whenever I watched or heard of Colombia’s national football team.
Before watching this documentary, I never knew how much violence and chaos was happening in Columbia during this time. I also heard about Pablo Escobar, but I never really knew who he was and how much influence he had in the country and in football. I also grew to think that the shooting had to do with gambling of some sorts. But while the own-goal was still a major motive, it also turned out that he just encountered the wrong people at a wrong time. The documentary characterized Andres as a humble, young man, raised in unfavorable conditions with good morals and a strong devotion to help his countrymen, despite being just a football player. Sad to know such a person was killed over “a game”.
Growing up watching football, I’ve always believed it is the best sport in the world. Here, in America, people are more passionate for ‘American’ football, basketball, and baseball. Although, the energy generated by a World Cup is unparalleled. The passion and excitement of the tournament is shared among millions, from many countries across the world. But regardless, when the dust settles, it’s only is just a game. The game should never be more important than life itself.