“Respect our culture, language and race” Foreign Ministry tells Colombia fans

A cellphone video of a Colombian football fan attending the World Cup opener of the national team in Saransk, Russia, in which he tells a Japanese woman to recite offensive comments in Spanish went viral on social media.

Dressed in the emblematic yellow jersey of La Selección, the beer-drinking hincha laughs as two Japanese women recite vulgar phrases that insult their appearance and integrity. The personal video that surfaced Tuesday immediately sparked outrage among Colombians, many apologizing on their own social media, to the people of Japan. Former Colombian striker Faustino Asprilla sent out a tweet in which he posts: “These kind of people do not represent Colombians. We respect all cultures, please receive my apologies in the name of my country.”

The football fan who made the reprehensible comments was identified as Guillermo Morales and in a radio interview with W Radio apologized to the country and asked “forgiveness from everyone, especially the people of Japan.” Morales claimed he was drunk and “in the heat of the moment” made the video to share only with friends.

The insulting behavior of a handful of Colombian football fans was enough though for the Foreign Ministry to warn its citizens visiting Russia to “encourage respect and good treatment of others.” The ministry also “emphatically condemned” the action of nationals who disrespect “our culture, language, and race.”

On the other side of the behavior ranking, many Colombians helped their Japanese colleagues pick up the trash strewn inside the 28,000-seat Mordovia Arena after La Selección lost 2-1 in a heart-wrenching match against Japan’s Blue Samurai.

Then, another video surfaced which showed Colombians drinking alcohol during the match from a flask hidden inside a hollow plastic binocular. In the video, the Colombians are laughing at how they managed to smuggle liquor past Russian authorities, and why breaking rules was part of “paisa ingenuity” – making a direct reference to Antioquia, and term given to the people of the department. Reaction on social media was equally swift and vitriolic with Colombians lampooning their fellow citizens, referring to them as “thugs” and “worst of our kind.”

One of the three individuals was identified as an employee of the country’s flagship airline, Avianca, and after the video was made public, the company released a statement condemning “all actions that go against our principles and values.” The employee of the airline’s cargo division was relieved from his duties.

Colombia’s senior police representative in Russia, Major Alejandro Saavedra, said that the fans who mocked the Japanese women have had their FIFA ID badges revoked and will be banned from attending matches. “The Russian security service has been warned about this kind of behavior for the next games,” confirmed Saavedra.

FIFA and Russian authorities have banned all alcohol inside World Cup stadiums.

With some 11,000 Colombians in Russia to cheer on team Colombia in the World Cup, the country will face Poland and Senegal in Group H next week. Yet despite the offensive comments and making a mockery of FIFA regulations, Colombia’s police official in Moscow did confirm that the majority of Colombia fans are “very well behaved.”

And the President of the Colombian football Association, Ramón Jesurun, posted on his twitter an observation and recommendation for fans in Russia: “Compatriots, coming to Russia to support our team is a gesture that we thank infinitely. But, if you made that effort, do it respecting women, our opponents and laws of the host country.”