The most painful doping, a mafia murder and the star who feared dying: the three events that shocked the World Cups

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The stories of the events that marked the World Cups forever with great soccer stars

The most painful doping, a mafia murder and the star who feared to die: the three events that shocked the World Cups< /p>

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Juan José Ciceri< i class="i-share-btn telegram">

The most painful doping, a mafia murder and the star who feared dying: the three events that shocked the World Cups< /p>The memory of Maradona together with the sick woman who took him to the anti-doping control in USA 94 after the victory over Nigeria (Getty)

The World Cups marked the history of football. Whether due to the appearance of great legends such as Pelé, Johan Cruyff or Diego Maradona himself,, or by events that have passed from generation to generation regardless of the quality of the images, the World Cups also have an archive full of unhappy situations that fly over in anticipation of a new appointment every four years.

From the kick in Uruguay 1930 to the last edition in Russia 2018, there are scandals that go beyond the ages such as the famous ghost goal in the final that was played at Wembley between England and Germany in 66' or the seven goals that the Bavarian team scored against the locals, Brazil, in 2014, which forever marked the careers of several footballers from that Verdeamarela team. and it became a historic defeat. Or the remembered header from Zinedine Zidane to Marco Materazzi in the definition of the 2006 title.

“See you soon because life does not end here”

For many, Colombia reached the World Cup USA 94as one of the pleasant surprises that could hit the tournament organized by the Americans. It is that after the remembered 5-0 against Argentina at the Monumental stadium, that team made up of, among others, Carlos Valderrama, Freddy Rincón, Faustino Asprilla and several others, was the favorite to advance to the second round because they had accessible rivals in the previous one for the football atmosphere in the group stage, such as Romania, Switzerland and the local team.

The premiere was a shock to the illusions of Colombians. The 1-3 against the Romanians of Gheorghe Hagi (later he would eliminate Argentina) fell like a bucket of cold water for the team, who had revenge in the following presentation against the United States. Only four days later, on June 22, 1994, the fateful sporting event took place that led to one of the most shocking events in football.

It was very hot at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The team that led Pancho Maturana was going to look for the victory to recover, but at 33 minutes, Andrés Escobar deflected a cross and dislodged Óscar Córdoba, who had come out to keep the center. Goal against, 0-1 and an uphill game for Colombia, which could not and lost a duel that left it out of the next phase of the World Cup.

The most painful doping, a mob murder and the star who feared to die: the three events that shocked the World Cups< /p>Andrés Escobar scored a goal against the hosts, United States (Photo: Shaun Botterill/ALLSPORT)

After that defeat, something broke between the Colombian people and those heroes who had set foot on US territory as candidates for the title. The defender, like the coach of that team, had arranged with a local newspaper to publish a column after each match. And of course, despite the elimination after the win against Switzerland (2-0), Andrés took the pen and left his reflection in the middle of the chaos.

“I still think that Colombia is more footballing than its enemies, but those arguments were recast on the field and we totally lost concentration. They beat us because of a very valid element such as faith”, the defender told the newspaper El Tiempo the day after being left out of the World Cup.

Known at that time as “The gentleman of soccer”, he did not spare words to express his discomfort. “A very painful experience that is simply a call to sanity, to reflection and not to launch happy concepts trying to analyze an entire seven-year process, for a single moment of defeat.”

In his farewell, Escobar highlighted something that he would later suffer in his own flesh hours before his death. “Please keep respect… A big hug for everyone and to tell them that it was a phenomenal, rare opportunity and experience that I had never felt in my life. See you soon because life doesn't end here”.

Once the squad returned to his country, Andrés traveled to Medellín to be with his family and his girlfriend Pamela Cascardo, whom he planned to marry in November. He also visited the directors of Atlético Nacional to define the steps of his transfer to Milan, from Italy. Until the night of June 2, after having dinner with some friends and his partner, the worst happened.

Two people rebuked him in a dance venue in the downtown area of the city. “Auto goal, Andrés, own goal”they yelled at him. What did Escobar do? As he had proposed in his column, he asked for “respect” with his manners. After other crossings, the player chose to leave with Pamela in his car, but he was intercepted by these two individuals, who crossed his truck to continue with the insults. And after another discussion, the driver of these characters got out and fired six shots at the soccer player's body.

In a state of shock, his girlfriend took the steering wheel and went to the nearest hospital to try to save the life of her future husband. The attempts were in vain and Andrés Escobar was declared dead. Justice quickly acted and it was determined that the perpetrator of the murder, the driver Humberto Muñoz, was sentenced to prison for more than 40 years, although he ended up being released in 2005. The two people targeted for starting the conflict were the brothers Pedro and Santiago. Gallón Henao, suspected of links to drug trafficking and paramilitary forces, although they were released from guilt and charges.

“I don't want to dramatize but I swear they cut off my legs ”

Saturday, June 25 at Foxboro StadiumBoston was one of the greatest milestones in the history of the World Cup. That day, Diego, the icon of the number 10 of Argentina, played his last match in the most significant event of the discipline. With the valuable 2-1 victory against Nigeria as the spearhead, the Argentine team led by Coco Basile positioned itself as a candidate to win the tournament after the exhibition in the premiere against Greece (4-0) with the shout to the camera of Fluff at the celebration.

Everything was happy after Claudio Cannigia's two goals against the Africans. But what seemed like a smiling image of the nurse taking Maradona by the hand to doping control, became one of the most suspicious postcards in history. And Sue Carpenter, the name of the assistant hired by the organization, remained in the collective memory as the lady who took Diego through the tunnel in his last days with the national team shirt in a soccer version.

The most painful doping, a mafia murder and the star who feared to die: the three events that shocked the World Cups

The day that FIFA announced the positive doping of Maradona in the 94 World Cup

The story goes that the bottle with Maradona's urine after the control had the label FIFA 220. Once the delegation traveled to Dallas for the duel against Bulgaria, the third and last of the group stage, the news of an alleged doping in the squad fell like a bomb. From there, communications were activated between Julio Grondona, president of the AFA, and the then general secretary of the entity that governs the destiny of world football, Joseph Blatter. “I'm very sorry, but the test came back positive”, was one of the first sentences heard by the head of the Argentine Football Association.

The rumors were many. The unverified legend tells that Joao Havelange himself tried to disqualify Basile's team from the world championship. Another version was that of a call from Argentina to the United States with requests even from Carlos Saúl Menem himself seeking to be lifeguards of a story that was finished. And of course, after the officialization, in a meeting with the press from all over the world, FIFA announced with great fanfare that Maradona was suspended and had to leave the Argentine concentration.

From then on, a series of images were produced that ended with one of the most iconic popular phrases left by modern sport. “I don't want to dramatize but I swear they cut off my legs”, Diego confessed to the journalist Adrián Paenza in a one-on-one for TV that went around the world and marked the end of an era in soccer and in the history of World Cups. The king left his crown vacant.

“I lost the World Cup but I won my life”

“I left to take a nap as usual before each game and woke up surrounded by everyone in my room… There they already told me what had happened to me”. Those are the words of Ronaldo himselfa few days ago, when he presented what will be a documentary about his career marked by goals, his achievements and the injuries that prevented him from completing a glorious career.

The selection of Brazil arrived at the France 1998 World Cup as a great candidate to retain the title they had won four years earlier in the United States and with a 17-year-old Ronaldo on the squad. O Phenomenonblossomed in the world of football like a spring daisy after USA 94. His celebrations at PSV in the Netherlands catapulted him to a dream season in Barcelona – he scored 47 goals in 49 appearances – and from there he moved to Italy to wear Inter's shirt.

Before the World Cup, Ronaldo shone with 34 goals and was key in winning the UEFA Cup against Lazio. That final was played at the Parque de los Príncipesin Paris, in a prelude to what was going to be the great World Cup final just over a month later.

As expected, the Verdeamarela reached the decisive instances of the tournament. Despite the surprise loss in the group stage against Norway (1-2), she was first in her group. Victories against Chile, Denmark and the Netherlands in the semifinal (on penalties), deposited the team led by Mario Zagalloin the final against Le Bleus. Ronaldo, with four goals, was a candidate to be the best in the World Cup. But the incident he experienced the night before the duel with France marked his life.

The most painful doping, a mafia murder and the star who feared to die: the three events that shocked the World Cups

Ronaldo arrived as a world figure in France 98 and its outcome was not what was expected (Henri Szwarc/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The chronicles of the time are dramatic. After lunch, the Brazilian team had prepared to rest when a figure from the team came out asking for help and woke up everyone in the South American bunker. “Ronaldo is dying”, shouted Roberto Carlos. The winger, who would later share a team with the striker at Real Madrid, saw his partner lying on the floor of the room.

One of the first to arrive was Edmundo, who some time later confessed that he saw number 9 having convulsions and foaming at his mouth. “I ran into his room and saw him writhing on the floor, hitting his arms against his legs . It made a very strange noise, like wanting to breathe and not being able to. Then Cesar Sampaio arrived, I grabbed Ronaldo hard and he held his tongue. A second later, the doctors arrived,” said the experienced player.

Quickly, the team's doctor, Dr. Lidio Toledo, went to the scene to help the star from Rio de Janeiro and referred him for his attention. He “he felt bad and was taken to a hospital. There I requested neurological and cardiological examinations, with tomography, which indicated that he was normal. We did all the tests that needed to be done and everything was fine, so I came to the conclusion that it had been a seizure caused by nerves”, explained the specialist.

The final was in the background for Brazil. Or so it seemed. Ronaldo played but seemed not to be on the field of play and the French took advantage of a Brazil that was not a rival: a 3-0 victory with a Zidane in a state of grace for the locals to celebrate the first world title in their history.

After the defeat, there were many rumors that flooded the stage that was lived by the one who for many was the best player of the moment. Or, at least, until before the final. It was said that the pressure was too much for a young man who was 22 at the time.

Did they force him to play despite not being in medical condition? They even pointed to the clothing brand that the selected player wears and the footballer himself, so much so that the company had to issue a statement departing from the fact. “Nike's mission is not to interfere with Zagallo's decisions and the player's personal ones,” were the words of the report issued by the clothing and footwear giant after the fall in the definition.

Ronaldo did not dodge the microphones after 0-3 and spoke at Saint Denis. “I felt terribly afraid. We lost the World Cup, but I won another cup, the one of life. I have never felt such discomfort and I hope I never feel it again. The only sure thing is that what happened to me was not for fear of going out on the court”, said the man who asked to play despite everything.

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