FARC Accepts Carlos Valderrama Challenge
Carlos Valderrama gestures next to the FIFA World Cup trophy in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 30, 2006. Reuters

On Saturday, Colombia's largest rebel group FARC agreed to a challenge made by famous football player Carlos Valderrama. "El Pibe" suggested that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia play a "Peace Match" in the hopes of a reconciliation with the Colombian government in order to end the violence. Valderrama made the proposal in a recent interview with the newspaper El Tiempo. FARC responded to the idea with an open letter and agreed to the match. In the name of "reconciliation" FARC proposed two matches, one to be held in Havana, Cuba and the other in Santa Marta in Colombia.

FARC is currently holding peace talks in Cuba, which is why the first match would be played in Havana. The open letter response was published on the left-wing rebels' blog. FARC said they were "fanatical about football" in their blog. "The members of our fronts and companies organize merry, informal games in which dribbles, overhead and scorpion kicks and goal saves camouflage themselves into the colors of the mountains," the letter reads. FARC also said they often organize games between negotiation sessions and want to take part in the "Peace Match" as soon as possible.

For almost 50 years FARC has been rebelling against the Colombian government, leaving hundreds of thousands dead, injured or displaced. Over 4.5 million people have been hurt one way or another by the conflict. FARC is considered the longest running insurgency in Latin America. "We are getting ready physically and tactically to go out there and play the 'Match for Peace'. Get ready for it," the FARC blog read. FARC and the Bogota began negotiating for peace in Colombia over a year ago. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia has 7,000 to 8,000 fighters in the group.

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