FARC Ask Maradona, Romario to Join Their Side for Match vs Peace Negotiators

This is republished from the day job: NTN24 News

'Ivan Marquez', FARC No. 2 and lead peace negotiator in Havana, Cuba, 2013.

HAVANA, CUBA - After accepting a challenge from Colombian soccer legend 'Pibe' Valderrama to play a soccer match in support of the peace process, FARC rebels have invited Argentinian legend Diego Maradona and other former Latin American stars to play in the match.

"Let's throw an SOS, a plea for Maradona to come and play with us so that we can finally achieve a peace that has eluded us for decades," the FARC’s chief negotatior Luciano Marín Arango, alias ‘Iván Márquez’, told the press. 'Marquez' is second in command of the FARC rebel group.

Last weekend, in an interview with a national newspaper, former Colombian captain Carlos 'El Pibe' Valderrama suggested the idea of a soccer match with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in favor of the ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba. The guerrillas quickly took to the idea, and accepted the challenge in a letter on Sunday.

Diego Maradona, 1979.

On Monday, the FARC extended the offer to Maradona, as well as other former stars such as Brazilian legend Romario, Paraguayan goalkeepr Jose Luis Chilavert (One has to have a good goalkeeper, isn't that so?, said 'Marquez'), Chile's Ivan Zamorano, Uruguay's Enzo Francescoli, Ecuador's Álex Aguinaga and Bolivia's Marco 'El Diablo' Etcheverry.

"I think it would be a good way to get the Colombian people, and the international community, to provide the unreserved support we need to find peace and reconciliation in the Colombian family," 'Márquez' said Monday.

'Marquez' said FARC negotiators are already "training " for the "crucial match", which the guerrillas want to be played in Havana. 

In their letter on Sunday, the FARC suggested there be two matches, one in the Valderrama’s coastal hometown of Santa Marta and the other in the Cuban capital, both played in the spirit of "fairness and with the flag of reconciliation flying."Enzo Francescoli Uriarte is a former Uruguayan football playerther Latin American stars to play in the match.

Carlos 'El Pibe' Valderrama.

However, Marquez said they need to coordinate with their Cuban hosts about the possibility of making these matches a reality.

The guerrilla negotiator even revealed some of his proposed tactics for the match: "I can only say that ‘El Pibe' is a very dangerous player, he organizes the games very well, so we are going to mark him with two female guerrillas. Maybe that way we can control him, and score an emphatic victory. "

Márquez made his remarks before a new round of peace negotiations as the Colombian government and the FARC, the country's largest and oldest rebel group, attempt to negotiate an agreement to end their near 50-year-old conflict.

Considered Latin America's longest-running insurgency, Colombia's armed conflict has left hundreds of thousands dead and displaced more than 4.5 million people.

Peace talks between Bogotá and the FARC, which has some 7,000 to 8,000 fighers, began more than a year ago.

Peter KarlComment