Police in Colombia are investigating a series of online death threats made against national team player Carlos Sanchez, who was given a red card and ejected from the country’s opening World Cup match against Japan Tuesday.
According to a report in The Guardian, a number of social media users began targeting Sanchez with vile messages and threats on his life after he was red carded and sent off the pitch for sticking his hand out to block a shot on goal from Japan’s Shinji Kagawa just three minutes in. The foul left the Colombian side with 10 men for the majority of the match, which ultimately resulted in a 2-1 upset of the Group H favorites.
The incident has become eerily reminiscent of the 1994 World Cup and the own goal scored by Colombia’s Andres Escobar, which led to a 2-1 loss to the U.S. and Colombia’s elimination from the tournament. Escobar was shot and killed days later after returning home to Medellin.
Among the thousands of tweets from fans denouncing the death threats, there were reportedly scores of them that supported the idea.
“If Andrés Escobar was killed for scoring an own goal, then Carlos Sánchez should be murdered and his dead body pissed on,” said one of the tweets.
The judicial division of the Colombian police has reportedly assigned a special cybercrime unit to investigate the threats.