Soccer in Colombia
The great former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said: ‘Some people believe soccer is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’ This quote perfectly describes the state of soccer in Colombia. If you love soccer, Colombia is definitely a place to visit on your pilgrimage. The sport really lives here and the people are equally fanatic about watching as they are about playing soccer. In the national league the stadiums of the top teams are packed each match with devoted fans singing from the top of their lungs. However it is the national team that really gets the people excited. During a game of the national team the whole country is draped in yellow, from the Carribean islands of San Andres to the inner cities of Bogota and Medellin: Everyone is watching their beloved national team.
A Brief History
After its golden soccer generation of the 1990’s Colombia saw a minor depression in soccer results, excluding winning their first title in the 2001 Copa America (which was held in Colombia). Colombia didn’t manage to qualify for the 2002, 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups. However after a good run in the 2011 Copa America the hope was back that there once again was a golden generation that could reach new heights, with even legendary Colombian soccer player Carlos Valderrama considering them as a team that could become the most successful in Colombian squad in history.
A New Golden Generation
And he was right! During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil the Colombian national team captivated the whole world with their beautiful soccer and cheerful celebrations after each goal. After defeating Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan in the group stage the whole world became a fan of the team with talented player like Juan Cuadrado and poster-boy James Rodriguez who would eventually end up as the leading goalscorer of the tournament and scoring an absolute screamer against Uruguay securing a place in Colombia’s first-ever quarter-final on a World Cup. Colombia was however eliminated by Host country Brazil in the quarter-final. This didn’t stop tens of thousands of Colombians in Bogota welcoming back their team as heroes.
James Rodriguez’ Goal of the Tournament vs. Uruguay
Celebrations after Colombia scores a goal at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Watching a match of the national team together with other Colombians is one of the must-do’s when you visit this country, regardless if you’re a fan or not. In Medellin the best place to watch the match is in Parque Lleras where there is a big screen and many people come together to watch and celebrate. In the end watching it at home with friends or in a big square with many Colombians, the passion and love for the team and soccer is the same.
If you also want to experience the real Colombia, check out our destinations page and see where we can take you!