For its coverage from the field of play in the tie against Junior, the fans of River made a trend in networks to George Michael de la Hoz (25) this week. The socio-political conflict situation that Colombia is going through made the party of Liberators cup does not develop in normal ways: the game even had to stop because of the tear gas that entered the stadium, where in the outskirts there were riots between the police and the protesters. And of course, in those conditions, George Michael’s voice -Named for his father’s fanaticism for the famous singer- it became crucial to know what was happening in Barranquilla. In dialogue with Ole, the ESPN journalist told in the first person how he experienced the broadcast and how his work impacted on social networks.
George Michael, journalist for ESPN Colombia.
-Are you aware of the stir caused by your coverage in Junior-River?
-Yes. In broadcasts, I don’t usually look at my cell phone, sometimes even at halftime. I disconnect from everything to stay focused. And even though I wasn’t paying attention to the cell phone, I could see that it wouldn’t stop vibrating, ha. Then when I checked it at the end, I had a bunch of messages and I thought something bad had happened. But they began to send me memes, to tag me on Instagram and Twitter the same, with many people from River who began to follow me. And there they also found old tweets of mine, from when I was not a journalist. I’m a fan of River, but I had to delete some tweets, because if they saw them from the channel, I could have problems. I follow all River games, I always see them from Colombia.
-In other words, if you had to choose a team in Argentina, it would be the Millo …
-Yes, I lean towards River. When I was a boy, my father bought me the Boca uniform, the Riquelme shirt. And he took pictures of me, ha. He liked Boca and with my uncles they followed his games, it was Boca that won the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental. And he bought me the complete uniform huh, even the stockings. Later, I started to like River and that’s where my fanaticism comes from. When Falcao arrived it was takeoff, because he was a Colombian player and I liked him a lot. From then on I watched all River games.
-In Barranquilla, outside the stadium, there was a heavy atmosphere … Were you afraid during the game?
-No, but it was difficult to concentrate on the commitment. He was trying to stay focused and it was difficult, because from all sides you could hear roars or tear gas shots. These days I also had to cover América de Cali-Atlético Mineiro and there it was more complicated. I had to do many interventions with my eyes closed due to the burning of tear gas. It was a pitched battle outside, and even after the game had finished, they had to leave the stadium quickly and look for transport, because they did not know if they could end in the middle of the confrontations.
-How do you personally experience the socio-political situation that Colombia is going through?
-Quite difficult. They are already confrontations not only with stones and scattering gases, but with shots. Sometimes ordinary people come out with guns and confront the police. Many people have died, even young people. There are many things that are happening, in all the cities of Colombia. Every day there are marches to protest the government. One would like all this to pass quickly to go out on the street with peace of mind.
-How was sharing transmission with Closs and Latorre?
-It was a dream come true. In Colombia and I think that, in all of South America, we are used to hearing Mariano’s narrations and Diego’s comments. I have followed them since I was a child. For me it was fulfilling a dream, but I was also very nervous. I had made the playing field, but with Colombian narrators with whom I have a little more confidence. With Mariano I had to prepare a lot, because I knew that at any moment he could ask me anything, even the relatives of the players, ha. I took a notebook with about 20 sheets full of information, ready for anything. It was a pleasure sharing the broadcast with them. Unfortunately I couldn’t say goodbye because the transmission on my headset was cut off.
“The girls from River wrote to me telling me that they loved me, that they wanted me to travel to Argentina,” says George.
-The River fans already love you… what was the craziest thing they wrote to you these days?
-Uf, yes. That when the pandemic ended they were going to invite me to the Monumental, that we were going to get drunk watching a River game, that they were going to create George Michael’s subsidiary and I had to be there when they inaugurated it … Many things. And also girls who wrote to me telling me that they loved me, that they wanted me to travel to Argentina to fall in love with me, ha. I think if ESPN takes me to Argentina my girlfriend will not let me go …
-What would you like to say to the Millo fans?
-Thank them for the love they have had for me, I tried to repay them. There are thousands of messages, but I think I have answered them all. Keep supporting the team, I will follow River from Colombia and hopefully at some point I can visit the Monumental. And of course, that they continue to beat Boca all the games that, just as there they are going to celebrate with beer, barbecue and everything, so I will do it from here. Hopefully this Sunday also River can beat Boca and that it be a 3-0 with a triplet from Borré, who is from here in Barranquilla.