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On this date, Colombia, Flamingos next opponents turned down hosting of World Cup




The FIFA World Cup remains the most glamorous single sporting event in Planet Earth. It is a dream for many countries to be the hosts.

However, on this day 40 years ago, Colombia which Nigeria’s Flamingos will face on Wednesday, dramatically rejected FIFA’s award to the country to host the 1986 edition.

FIFA had two years earlier awarded the prestigious tournament to Colombia. But on 23 October 1982,  President Belisario Betancur Cuartas  dashed his people’s hopes and refused to stage the tournament.

 “We’re already world champions – Nobel world champions,” the Colombian head of state said haughtily, in reference to the literary accolade awarded to Gabriel García Márquez.

It is still the only time that a country rejected the award of a FIFA World Cup. The 1986 tournament was later awarded to Mexico, making the country the first to host the World Cup twice – 1970 and 1986.


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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