Monday, October 18

neither escape nor victory in a Bogotá dungeon


  • Performer: Serious drinking

  • Country: England

On May 25, 1970, Bobby Moore, the dapper captain of the England team that four years earlier he had received the Jules Rimet Cup from Queen Elizabeth at Wembley, sleeps in a dungeon in Bogotá accused of robbery after being detained by plainclothes police officers while he was attending, along with his teammates from the national team, a screening of the western ‘The Valley of Violence’ at the Tequendama hotel theater in the Colombian capital. There are only six days until the World Cup in Mexico begins and in England the press denounces, with great display of capital letters and exclamation marks, the existence of an international plot to blow up the options of the current champions. Hysteria takes hold of the soccer planet.

How did we get here?

To understand it, we must go back a week. On May 18, the English team landed in Bogotá to start a mini acclimatization tour prior to the World Cup. After checking in at Tequendama, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton They come to the Fuego Verde jewelry store to browse for a while and they leave the premises followed a short distance away by a shop assistant who accuses them of having stolen a valuable gold and diamond bracelet. Several armed police officers come and search the footballers, but they find nothing and let them go. The embarrassing incident seems settled and the English, following the plan outlined, play on the 20th against Colombia (they win 0-4) and go to Ecuador, where they beat the local team (0-2) before traveling to Mexico.

The journey, alas, includes a stopover of a few hours in Bogotá. And things have happened there in recent days. The most important: the manager of the Green Fire jewelry store (a guy named Alvaro Suarez whom one cannot help but imagine as the gambling and cocaine addicted perist played by Adam Sandler in the movie ‘Diamonds in the Rough’) has testified to the police that he saw Moore take the bracelet. The English captain, a member of the Order of the British Empire, is arrested and taken to the police station, where he spends the night behind bars.

House arrest

Two days of intense diplomatic negotiations follow (the Foreign Office even post a bond for the full value of the missing jewel) and police investigations that do not clarify anything while Bobby Moore remains under house arrest at the home of Alfonso Senior, the president of the Millionaires club that sold Di Stéfano to Madrid. Finally, he is allowed to go free and rejoin the concentration of his team, which is already in Mexico.

In that World Cup, Moore completes a splendid tournament and wins the admiration and friendship of Pelé (with whom he will coincide a decade later in the filming of the movie ‘Evasion or Victory’), but England lose in the quarterfinals to West Germany in a match that is decided in extra time. Meanwhile, in Bogotá, the case has taken a turn and now the evidence points an accusing finger at Álvaro Suárez, suspected of having stolen the bracelet and having lied in his statement. The charges, in any case, will never be proven.

Related news

This whole sordid episode will be recovered in 1983 by the hilarious Norwich Serious Drinking sextet in a one minute and nine second punk blitz that appears on the band’s first LP, ‘The Revolution Starts at Closing Time’. In that disc they appear two other minor football pop classics: the magnificent ‘Love on the terraces’ (John Peel’s favorite) and the anthem ‘Spirit of’ 66 ‘, which basically consists of a’ hooliganesque ‘list of the names of the players on the team that won the World Cup in England. With Bobby Moore at the helm.


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