Colombians hope FIFA World Cup victories help their country's reputation

Colombians on social media ask for corrections on spelling and cocaine trafficking generalizations


MIAMI – After singers Shakira, Carlos Vives and Juanes  tweeted their support for their FIFA World Cup team Thursday, the players made them proud with a memorable celebration that made World Cup history.

The professional soccer players showed the world how to dance "salsa." And after the 2-1 victory against the Ivory Coast, and the 3-0 victory against Greece, social media exploded with thousands of mentions of the country's name.

"In Colombia they celebrate World Cup victories by throwing cocaine everywhere," Mitch Wrobel said on Twitter Thursday.

Wrobel was referring to the Colombian tradition of throwing corn starch at strangers during street celebrations. There were many jokes about Colombia's history with drugs. And Colombian social media users rushed to correct and defend their country.

"Please don't joke about our suffering," said a letter signed by "A Colombian" that was on the web Thursday afternoon. "It's not funny, it's hurtful."

Juan Camilo Henao: "When will people understand that is Colombia, not Columbia?"

Henao was not alone in his complaint on Twitter. "It's Colombia, NOT Columbia" is a social media campaign that digital-media executive Carlos Pardo started. It is now known worldwide for asking people to avoid confusing the District of Columbia, or Columbia University for the South American country.

The Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages with thousands of followers devoted to campaigning against the typo have shown some progress.

"I'm sorry to all of my Colombian amigos and amigas for spelling Colombia wrong," Boris Caballo said after the misspelling the name during the World Cup game on Twitter.

Colombian soccer has a painful history that some in social media were trying to take in a different direction with the use of hash tags and memes.

During the 1994 FIFA World Cup, a drug cartel gunman killed professional soccer player Andres Escobar two weeks after he made a mistake on the field. In his tribute, some social media users were using hash tag "Homenaje Andres Escobar" to promote peaceful celebrations.

"We are not all Pablo Escobar. We are also Fernando Botero. We are creative entrepreneurs. We are not just leftist guerrillas and violent drug dealers ... We are a nation of exiled patriots that is healing," said Tatiana Ordones. "Soccer is healing us."

Full Screen
1 / 9