With the FIFA World Cup in Brazil 1 month away, I have been watching ESPN 30 for 30 Soccer Stories that’s been airing starting last month except two episodes. A majority of these films were tragedies or bad situations. Others were moments that I didn’t know happened, and sometimes think, the stories behind what happened that the rest of the public were not aware of either.
I think we sometimes forget because of where we live in the USA that these athletes live in bad even horrible situations; for example, the episode “Opposition” , when in 1974 Pinochet took control of the country of Chile in a military coup. The national stadium was transformed into a concentration camp and killing field for those who opposed Pinochet , while Chile National Team were trying to qualify for the 1974 World Cup in West Germany.
The first game against the Soviet Union in Moscow ended in a scoreless tie while the 2nd leg the Soviets boycotted the game and disqualified due to the situation in Chile. In this 30 for 30 story two Chilean stars, who opposed Pinochet and survived. Imagine shaking hands with the man responsible for the murders of countless people all for political power?
Another film, this one aired in 2010, called “The Two Escobars”, really had me in tears at the end (two hour documentary). Remember the 1994 World Cup here in America? Colombia’s own Andres Escobar scored on his own goal in the 2-1 loss to the US? Pablo, other hand, was the leader of a major drug cartel in Colombia.
Pablo and Andres Escobar were not related, but were intertwined because of the game of soccer, and both were killed in the end. There is much more to this story that can be explained here, but all these episodes are available on YouTube. Like I said earlier, I think we forget the living situations these players come from.
Even today in countries where there is unrest, I imagine we will hear similar stories that we have seen in this series. For Egypt trying to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, for example, their team manager and former USA manager Bob Bradley had every chance to leave his position. Even though his life was at risk, he felt a sense of duty to Egypt and did not leave.
The restart of league play was delayed after their winter break. It was decided that games would be played behind closed doors for safety reasons, when the games restarted. A majority of the league stars are foreigners, but still showed up to play. I hope some of you take the time to watch these documentaries.