The match in question, between Llaneros Football Club and Union Magdalena SA, saw Llaneros concede two goals in extra time, resulting in the start of a match-fixing investigation against the club after it was accused by fans and even the country’s president of throwing the match.
In a 30-second video
posted on social media on Tuesday, Jorge Duván Mosquera, a Llaneros defender, addressed his comments to president Iván Duque himself, saying: “We fear for our own lives: me and my teammates are scared to go out, we fear something might happen to us on the street.”
Following Mosquera’s video, Llaneros FC confirmed in a public statement that some of its players had received death threats, announcing the club contacted the police and hired a law firm to assist its players.
The incident is spilling out as of one of Colombia’s largest sports scandals in recent history. On Saturday, Llaneros were playing against the Union Magdalena SA in the final match of the Colombian second division.
Victory for Magdalena would result in promotion to the top league next year, while Llaneros had to score five goals to be promoted due to goal difference.
After taking a late lead with an 80th minute goal, Llaneros seemed destined to win the match, but during six minutes of extra time, they conceded two goals which resulted in a Magdalena victory and subsequent promotion.
In the second of those two goals, however, the Llaneros defensive line allegedly appears to play half-heartedly and lets Magdalena’s striker score almost unchallenged.
Mosquera is one of the players who seemed to stop playing; in front of his team’s goal, he can be seen watching without trying to defend the last-minute goal.
The outcome of the match drew criticism right at the final whistle, with the official broadcast commentator criticizing the Llaneros and calling the match “a real shame.”
The critiques only mounted when the president of the Colombian professional football league announced the opening of a formal investigation
on the match.
Allegations of match-fixing and sports fraud erupted over the weekend in Colombian media, and current and retired Colombian footballers — including Juventus winger Juan Guillermo Cuadrado
— criticized the goal.
Duque himself joined the criticism late on Sunday night, tweeting
: “What happened in the promotion game […] is a national shame. Sport requires transparency, honesty and zero tolerance facing any situation that delegitimizes ethics.”
In his video, Mosquera personally called Duque out, saying: “Mr. President, we are not corrupt. Perhaps, you might hold your minister accountable the same way you are accusing us now,” in a reference to a separate scandal
which saw Duque’s Minister for Technology leave her post among allegations of embezzlement earlier this year.
Llaneros coach Walter Aristizábal adamantly denied the accusations in a press conference after the game, saying, “We reject all the accusations and allegations of acts of corruption and match-fixing that surfaced on social media, our sports results are testament of the good work and intention of our institution.”
Aristizábal also suggested that the players might have been influenced by the fact that promotion was out of reach for Llaneros. “We compete at the highest level, created lots of opportunities that we did not take advantage of. For us, what was fatal was the minute when they scored and drew with us,” Aristizábal said.
“I insist that the emotional part is difficult to handle, when they scored, we’d have to score five more to overturn the result, and what can we do with that? We are now focused to prepare the next league and fight for promotion next year.”
The situation echoes one of the darkest eras of Colombian football: in the 1990s, several players received death threats following bad performances on the pitch, often at the hands of criminal drug cartels that were involved in Colombian professional football.
In 1994, Colombian football player Andrés Escobar was shot at a night club in Medellin
just five days after the Colombian national team was booted out of the World Cup in a 2-1 defeat against the United States due to an Escobar own goal.
The murder was widely believed to be a punishment for the own goal, and for years, it tarnished the image of Colombian football abroad.
In their statement on Tuesday, Llaneros wrote: “The sports world and Colombian football cannot forget that in the 1990s the lives of important Colombian players were impacted in similar situations; we call for calm and to let the competent authorities resolve this issue.”
On Monday, Magdalena, the team which benefited from the match result, published a statement
claiming the club’s conduct is clean and that the match against Llaneros was a fair game.
The Colombian professional league announced the result of the match would stand pending an investigation, and that Magdalena would be invited to join the top league next year.
In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for President Duque said the presidency would not commenting on Mosquera’s video.