Football: Colombian dedicates goal to coke barons

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The Independent Online
The goalscorer in Colombia's 1-0 victory over Ecuador in a World Cup qualifying match in Bogota on Sunday has dedicated his decisive strike to the country's jailed cocaine barons, while the nation's president, Ernesto Samper, said the triumph had the "smell of French cheese and Colombian coffee".

"I'd like to dedicate the goal to all those who for some reason or another are deprived of their freedom. I'd like to dedicate it to Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez [Orejuela],"Anthony De Avila told reporters after settling the match with his goal in the 86th minute.

The Rodriguez Orejuela brothers headed the Cali drug cartel, estimated to have been responsible for 80 per cent of the world cocaine supply, before their capture in mid-1995.

De Avila plays for the New York-New Jersey side in the Major Soccer League, but he previously played in Colombia for the Cali-based America team, of which the Rodriguezes were reputed to be the main shareholders.

The triumph, which follows a recent spell of lacklustre performances, brings Colombia a step closer to earning a place in the World Cup finals in France next year.

Minutes after the end of the match, as he inaugurated a new session of Congress in Bogota, Samper told legislators: "The victory has the flavour of French cheese and the smell of Colombian coffee."

Samper, who allegedly financed his 1994 election campaign with $6million (pounds 3.7m) from the Cali cartel, was apparently unaware of De Avila's controversial comments.

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