When the footballing world sets their eyes on their television sets to enjoy the final Round of 16 clash of the FIFA World Cup 2018 between Colombia and England, Carlos Sanchez's family will join them too albeit with a lot of concern; just like the families of Colombian squad that took part in the 1994 World Cup.
Sanchez, who was red carded only three minutes into Colombia's opener against Japan, has received a series of online death threats.
Like Sanchez, the 1994 World Cup team too had received death threats from Colombian drug lords. Already under pressure, Colombia lost their opening match against Romania which made the next USA fixture very crucial.
An anxious Colombia couldn't defeat them and were eventually knocked out of the tournament. Unfortunately their captain Andres Escobar, who scored an own goal in a crucial clash against USA, was murdered brutally ten days after his country's exit.
As the world tried to recover after the unfathomable incident, Alan Hensen, pundit and commentator, made careless remarks a day after Esobar's death.
“The Argentine defender warrants shooting for a mistake like that," he said after a player made an error during the between Argentina and Romania. Henson didn't seem to understand the seriousness of Escobar's death.
24 years down the line, the situation hasn't changed much. Players still receive death threats; what is shocking is that fans post them on social media, a platform which can be easily monitored, without any fear.
A Twitter user posted a photo of Sanchez and Escobar with the message, "I propose a dream." While many immediately voiced their opinions against the tweet, a few supported the idea.
“If Andrés Escobar was killed for scoring an own goal, then Carlos Sánchez should be murdered and his dead body pissed on,” read one of the replies.
According to a report in Guardian, Colombian police have launched investigations into a series of online death threats against Sanchez.
Despite Sanchez's red card, Colombia have managed to bounce back and will lock horns with England in the Round of 16 clash on Tuesday.
Incidentally, Monday marked the 24th death anniversary of Andres Escobar and on the occasion his brother Sachi insisted that lessons had still not been learned in Colombia and requested fans to not consider taking revenge on a player if Colombia lose to England.
He empathised with Sanchez's family and said they must be feeling 'desperate and powerless' after the threats.
“Carlos must be feeling both sad for the mistake he made, and very afraid, and his family too," Sachi was quoted as saying to Mirror.
“My brother never received any threats, they just shot him dead in the most cowardly way. The fact that people are still allowed to say these things on social network sites, even threaten his with death, making players and their families fear for their lives, shows me that nothing good came out of Andres’ death, nothing was learned.
“These people are just lowlife who are not real Colombian football fans, who should be arrested and thrown into jail. But despite what happened to Andres there are still no laws in the country to stop them," he added.
He also hoped that if Colombia failed to meet the expectations of fans 'then the tragedy that happens to my brother doesn’t repeat itself.'
Colombian police may or may not eventually find the culprits. But the fact that a Colombian player will walk into a World Cup knockout game with death threats hovering over his mind 24 years after Escobar's death isn't acceptable and should be dealt with seriously.
Updated Date: Jul 03, 2018 20:38:03 IST