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A close relationship between FC Porto and Colombia was established many years ago. The transfers started with great success (Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez or Luis Diaz), and since then they have been maintained through various initiatives from both parties. Enough to close a strong athletic link enjoyed by the Dragons, the Colombians and the Portuguese in general, this link has gone beyond the confines of football to include the highest areas of relations between the two countries.

If most current historians agree on Christopher Columbus’ Genoese origins, there is a stubborn rumor in Portugal. Maintained by some researchers, this one preserves the idea of ​​Portuguese Christopher Columbus. Two centuries after giving his name to the former province of New Granada, his talent for discovery passed to Porto scouts who made Colombia their favorite stadium. Since 2009, nine players from Colombian soil have worn the colors of the Dragons main team. And not least. They are called Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Jackson Martinez, Freddy Guarín, or more recently Matthews Uribe and Luis Diaz. In just thirteen years, Colombia has become the fourth most represented foreign country by number of players in the club’s history, far behind countries with clear links to Portugal such as Brazil (123 players) or Spain. (12 players), but ahead of Angola (8 players). In terms of matches played, Colombia (771 matches) climbed to third place ahead of Spain (750 matches). This rose water story also hides a gold mine. Behind the names James, Falcao, Diaz or Martinez, the Dragon has benefited from sales of close to 170 million euros. So it is easy to understand FCP’s desire to preserve its interests in Colombia. But how do these interests serve the interests of the countries in which they participate?

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Porto thanks Colombia and vice versa

In 2008, before experiencing the success of his future relationship with Colombia, FC Porto launched ‘Dragon Force’, a program for international football schools. The first of these schools opened in 2014 in Bogotá, at the EFA Deportes Club. However, the Colombian capital was not contacted on the initiative of the Portuguese club, but on the initiative of the director of the South American club, Bernardo Oricochea, who was well influenced by the success of his compatriots in Portugal. “The idea of ​​this project was to train our players to give the best to Portohe explains. FC Porto sent us coaches to take care of the sporting and scouting aspects, while we dealt with the administrative aspects. » From this partnership was born seven years “Fabulous” For a Colombian entity that benefits from FCP experience. We were trained in the tactical rotation by the Porto envoys (Methodology developed by Vitor Fried, professor at the University of Sport of Porto, and used by Mourinho or Villas Boa, editor’s note), confirms the director of EFA Deportes. However, in December 2021, Dragon Force Bogotá must close its doors when building a highway at the football school facilities. “We have great memories of this period.He lives in Bernardo Euricuccia. Three Portuguese coaches stayed with us in Colombia. »

From this union, tangible results remain rather meager. Only two Colombian players from Dragon Force Bogotá ended up joining Porto. Angel Yesid and Juan Perea joined the Dragons U19s in 2018. While Angel Yesid now plays in Malta, Juan Perea joined VfB Stuttgart last summer. Thus, the relationship between Bogota and Porto will directly enable two Colombian players to realize their European dream. “These seven years have been great, especially for the Colombian players who all dream of Europeremember Uricoechea. Aside from Angel Yesid and Juan Perea, there are five other Colombian players who joined Europe during this time thanks to the programme. » By contributing his expertise and support, FC Porto opened a new European door for Colombian players who had been waiting for an opportunity. The coaches that FCP sent to Colombia allowed the Portuguese club to monitor the domestic tournament. What to be sure of is the potential of Luis Diaz in particular, who was recruited in 2019 to the Junior Football Club. Despite the demise of Dragon Force Bogotá, FCP has also taken other steps to be ahead of other European clubs when it comes to young Colombian players. Thus, every fall the Dragons organize the Caza Talentos program that brings together Colombian players from all walks of life between the ages of 9 and 18. To promote his project, the club does not hesitate to highlight players such as Uribe or Luis Diaz. Bernardo Yuricuccia endorses: “The stars of FC Porto are the ones who created the excellent image of the club throughout Colombia.”

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A sporting relationship with diplomatic benefits?

The peculiarity of the association between FC Porto and Colombia is that it is not limited to the green rectangle, but extends to much wider horizons. In 2013, when Portuguese President Cavaco Silva visited his Colombian counterpart, Manuel Santos, the latter confirmed the fact that the two countries were then crossing “The best moment in their history in diplomatic and commercial affairs” , adding thanks to FCP and what the club has done for Colombian players like Falcao, James or Jackson Martínez. The reference is not anecdotal. Indeed, we are aware that the consolidation of economic and political relations between the two countries coincides with the fruitful activity of FC Porto with the South American country and its citizens. In 2017, the Portugal-Colombia Bi-National Strategic Council was established to promote economic cooperation that has strengthened exchanges between the two countries. At the same time, Porto and the Colombian city of Pereira establish diplomatic relations, helping each other in particular on urban and social issues. The Colombian Embassy in Lisbon has been contacted to confirm the long-term impact of soft power From the dragon on relations between the two countries. “When we see that Colombian citizens arrive in Portugal in large numbers, as through football, it can help to develop new relationships” says one of his envoys. If the impact of the FCP on diplomatic relations between Luso-Colombia is to be put into perspective, it must nevertheless be taken into account. One thing is for sure: with a potential contract extension for Mathios Uribe and the enlistment of Jesus Diaz, Luis’ little brother, FC Porto has not finished enriching its city with the Colombian dialect.

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by Amauri Gonçalves
All comments compiled by AG.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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