British tabloid criticized for drug pun in tasteless World Cup headline

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An awful English tabloid that shall not be named is under fire for promoting its coverage of England’s World Cup Round of 16 match against Colombia with a tasteless front page headline.

The newspaper, which has a history of bigotry, xenophobia and irresponsible reporting, made implicit reference to Colombia’s drug trafficking problems with the line: “As 3 Lions face nation that gave world Shakira, great coffee and er, other stuff, we say … GO KANE!”

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It’s an obvious play on words. “Go Kane” – a reference to star English striker Harry Kane, pictured on the front page – rhymes with “cocaine.” Colombia is the world’s leading producer of the drug.

That, of course, has nothing to do with soccer. Colombia’s ambassador to the UK, Nestor Osorio Londono, was one of many to point that out, and to criticize the newspaper.

“It’s rather sad that they use such a festive and friendly environment as the World Cup to target a country and continue to stigmatize it with a completely unrelated issue,” Osorio Londono said.

Colombia’s illegal drug trade has torn the country apart over the past several decades. Violence involving cartels, paramilitary groups and the Colombian government has been responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

And yet the British newspaper found it appropriate to poke fun at the problem, to associate all Colombians with the drug wars, and to reinforce stereotypes.

It has been criticized, and justifiably so, by Colombian media, supporters, and people around the world. It’s provocation for the sake of provocation (and publicity). It was completely unnecessary.

As Osorio Londono said: “Respect, fair play and joy for the game is all that matters tonight,” when England and Colombia kick off at 2 p.m. ET. “We’ll be cheering for Colombia and hoping we can all enjoy a great match.”

Harry Kane celebrates one of his many goals for England. The Three Lions meet Colombia in the 2018 World Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday. (Getty)
Harry Kane celebrates one of his many goals for England. The Three Lions meet Colombia in the 2018 World Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday. (Getty)

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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