Medellin mourns its murdered sports star
Monday 04 July 1994
Escobar, 27, was shot dead in the city on Saturday after three men and a woman accosted him over the own goal he scored in Colombia's 2-1 World Cup defeat by the United States ten days ago. The goal, and Colombia's shock defeat, helped end the hopes of a team tipped by former Brazilian star Pele to win the tournament.
Medellin authorities claimed the killing was 'unpremeditated, a spur of the moment thing, a personal grudge'. In Medellin, where football is often literally a matter of life or death, and teenage hit- men will kill for as little as pounds 20 to resolve matrimonial or other disputes, that was entirely possible. But it conflicted with initial police reports that a vehicle in which the killers fled had been stolen the previous night.
The police statements, against the backdrop of death threats against the Colombian team, reports of huge bets on the US match and rival cocaine cartels' involvement in Colombian football, raised speculation that drugs or gambling mafiosi had murdered Escobar.
The player was no relation to Pablo Escobar, multi-billionaire boss of the Medellin cocaine cartel who was shot dead by troops last December after bribing his way out of a local jail. But Escobar's cocaine money was long believed to be behind the local First Division side Nacional, for which Andres Escobar played. Pablo Escobar also acted as unofficial agent for many Medellin players. He was thought to have been involved in the 1991 transfer of the star winger, Faustino Asprilla, to the Italian club, Parma.
One theory strong in Medellin yesterday was that inter-cartel rivalry was behind the killing. The Cali cocaine cartel, thought to own a local side via front men, has long been involved in a violent vendetta with its Medellin rivals and the Nacional Medellin team. Many believe the Cali cartel may have killed Andres Escobar because they had bet huge sums on Colombia in the US match.
Others are convinced the Medellin cartel suspected the Colombian team of either 'selling out' to the Cali cartel, to 'throw' the match against the US, or of succumbing to the pressure of death threats made before the match by not trying on the pitch. Coach Francisco Maturana and midfielder Gabriel Jaime Gomez were both threatened and Maturana took the threats seriously enough to leave Gomez out of the team.
There was widespread suspicion that all was not well with the match. Calling for a Fifa inquiry, the Independent's Ken Jones reported at the time that Colombia's players were 'without conviction, devoid of spirit'.
In an article in the Colombian daily, El Tiempo, after the US match, Andres Escobar wrote: 'I can assure you nothing strange happened in our (World Cup) group. We simply hit a low. See you soon, because life doesn't end here.'
Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
Royal Tour 2014: Is the Duchess of Cambridge the only person ever to climb into a fighter jet wearing a dress and high heels?
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 How We Met: Alison Moyet & Emma Kennedy: 'I knew we'd be friends because she was happy to make a prat of herself'
£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...
£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...