FARC, Valderrama to play football for peace, recognition of Colombia’s victims of violence
Colombia’s limitless passion for football often suffered through connections with infamous drug traffickers such as Pablo Escobar.
Now, a bold effort is planned to exploit this powerful football passion in the pursuit of peace. Colombia’s largest guerrilla army – currently attempting to negotiate a peace accord – has agreed to play two matches against a team that includes one of the country’s most recognized players, Carlos Valderrama.
The FARC has agreed to play two matches against a team led by former national star Valderrama, first in Havana, Cuba, where negotiations to end 50 years of internal conflict between the rebel army and Colombia are progressing. The second is to be played in the north coast city of Santa Marta at yet unspecified dates, according to a post on the FARC’s website.
Football games between the armed guerrillas – still battling government troops and attacking police officers in parts of Colombia – would have seemed an impossibility a short while ago. But progress in the talks and hopes of a peace accord in the war-weary nation have raised hopes dramatically.
Whether the details of the matches and the problems with the probable opponents of the match and the peace process can be managed remains to be seen.
Valderrama remains on of the most recognizable football players in Colombia, partly because of his flamboyant blonde afro, and the dramatic style he displayed in more than 100 matches for the national team before his retirement.
He has recently been reported to be a candiate in Colombia’s 2014 elections, a report he denied on this weekend.
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