Colombia’s national soccer team wrote a public letter Thursday imploring soccer fans across the country to “reflect about the vision and true role of soccer in society” and to abate the violence that has turned “soccer jerseys into battle uniforms.”
The letter came after Bogota announced the cancellation of a soccer match between Millonarios and Atletico Nacional Tuesday following three fan killings over the weekend in soccer-related violence, culminating in the death of a 66 year old ex-military commander who was stabbed in the heart trying to defend his son from a group of fans from a rival team.
“It is time to change our attitude and not take the color of the jersey like a battle uniform,” said the team in letter signed by the Colombian National Selection soccer team. “We don’t want violence in the streets and much less in soccer.”
While the team said its first goal is to qualify for FIFA World Cup in Brazil 2014, they hope the moments on the road working towards their goal would serve to “strengthen the bonds of union, brotherhood, training, health, solidarity, and before all else, respect between each one of us… We are going to make our sport a tool for peace and tolerance between all Colombians.”