Reflections and Conclusions

Colombian football had improved massively throughout fifteen years of narco-investment. The Colombian teams were getting national and international success, playing some of the best football on the planet. The national team were playing with huge confidence. However the bubble had to burst. When the various drug lords were arrested or killed in the early 1990’s, the money and power they had disappeared. Colombian society in general was in a state of disarray as people were unsure who had control and authority over the country. This social chaos was represented by the performance of the Colombian national team in the 1994 world cup. The players were being given conflicting instructions from the coaching staff and the threatening gangsters who wanted to gamble. The team looked completely disjointed, a contradiction to the previous successes. All the successes came with a heavy cost of death and violence. Assassinations and murders were rife, while football games were won through bribes and threats. Ultimately, football became much more than just a game, while the success was not worth the prices paid.

Colombian football was entering a period of depression following the 1994 World Cup. They no longer had the quality of players that they previously possessed, nor the financial backing to create them. Over the course of another fifteen years, the national team crashed down the FIFA world rankings to 54th in 2011.

Although the drug cartels of the 1980’s are long gone, the league still faces many problems. An investigation done in Colombia showed links with Independiente Santa Fe and a cartel known as El Dorado cartel.  It was reported that they had been receiving bags of cash to launder through the club. The Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, also a Santa Fe fan pledged to remove the ties between the club and the illegal cartels. Many clubs are facing financial problems and debt. (Brodzinsky, 2012) According to Bloomberg “tickets sold in 2010 fell 30 percent from the year before to 2.1 million”[1], while many clubs face bankruptcy. Former power houses like Millionarios and América De Cali face huge financial problems as they try to escape from their unlawful pasts.

However, 20 years after the death of Andres Escobar, Colombia had finally qualified for the 2014 FIFA world cup, the last world cup they qualified for being in 1998. The team looked like a real force with world class players like Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado.  They marginally lost to the hosts Brazil in the quarter final; however they played some of the nicest football of the World Cup with James Rodriguez winning the golden boot for the top scorer and the best goal of the tournament. As of September 2014, Colombia sits at 3rd in the FIFA world rankings with a promising future ahead of them and with a plethora of talented youngsters coming through the youth ranks.

[1] Blake Schmidt (9/08/2011),