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Euphoria in football-mad Colombia rises

04/07/2014 from:SNTV


The euphoria in football-mad Colombia on the rise ahead World Cup match against Brazil.


Football fever has swept Colombia ahead of Friday's do-or-die World Cup match against hosts Brazil.

It's the first time Colombia has reached the World Cup quarter-finals.

The streets of the capital Bogota are dressed in yellow, red and blue, the colours of the Colombian flag, and World Cup memorabilia, such as a huge replica of the
tournament's trophy, can be seen around the city.

Everyone seems to be wearing the canary-yellow national jersey, even on the days Colombia aren't playing.

Colombia's euphoria during this World Cup is a big contrast to 20 years ago this month when 27-year-old defender Andres Escobar was shot dead.

Escobar had knocked Colombia out of the World Cup by scoring an own goal in a game against the United States.

He was shot six times by the driver of two suspected drug traffickers, one of whom had complained to him about his blunder 10 days earlier in Los Angeles.

Sociologist Alexander Castro said Colombia is no longer living in the drug-fuelled violence of 20 years ago.

SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Alexander Castro, Sociologist:

"In that sense, I do not believe that today we can experience a similar tragedy (footballer being killed). Why? Because these same drug trafficking structures do not have the same power nor the same supremacy of the 80s and 90s."

Two decades later, some even see the country's newfound unity around the World Cup as accelerating the pace of 18-month-old peace talks between the government and the leftist rebel group FARC.

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos is among the devoted fans and plans to attend Friday's match in Brazil.

Santos declared earlier this week that all non-essential government workers would get the day off to watch the game.

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