The 2014 Soccer World Cup in Brasil was beginning, and Colombia was present. Days before the first game, the markets and shops were flooded with national team jerseys, and the majority of Colombians purchased their own. I listened to everyone making plans of where and with whom they would watch the game – and there I was, a Nicaraguan not in love with soccer but little by little catching this fever for the World Cup.
The awaited day finally arrived. Colombia faced Greece in their first game. That day, I had a workshop in Cazuca, so I traveled from San Nicolás, the community where I live, passing through the center of Soacha and San Mateo, two urban areas in the municipality. It was surprising what I saw: everyone in the street, children and adults, with their jerseys. It was something that simply could not be ignored, a total party atmosphere, and I said, “Soccer really is important to Colombians.”
Everyone tried to leave the workshop early because the match started at 11 am. A family invited me to come to their house to watch the game together. It was neat to arrive and see everyone there gathered. The woman of the house prepared a delicious soup, the kids were so excited, and everyone was sharing. The game started, and after 3 minutes, the first goal was scored – Wow! There was a total uproar – shouting, hearing gunpowder outside, and everyone singing GOOOOOOOOOALLLLLLLL! In the end, Colombia won the match, and the afternoon was spent celebrating. Returning home, I was witness to a huge caravan of people in the street, but something was curious: seeing people covered in flour and observing a literal flour battle. I saw various clashes, where people covered in flour reacted violently against the agressors, resulting in conflicts. The next day, it surprised me to hear in the news that nine people died in the midst of the celebration. The mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, confirmed that over the weekend the city police handled over 3000 fights, most of which were caused by excess consumption of alcohol.
It made me very sad to see this reality that affects public order: a celebration of the victory of the national team beoming a conflict that leaves dead and wounded, taking the shine off the occasion. It’s peculiar to understand the reasons for these fights and disputes between people of the same nationality, and who, conversely, should see themselves as united and reconciled by the achievements of the national team. It’s exactly this reflection that makes me think that soccer is a picture of what happens in society, resulting in an evident deficit in the civil culture reflecting a high dose of intolerance. I pray to our Heavenly Father that Colombians would learn to celebrate their passion for soccer in peace and sanity, learning to live with each other in a framework of tolerance.