With the Netflix’s cartel drama Narcos back for a third season that looks at the Cali Cartel, the internet is buzzing with reactions to the prestige look at the war on drugs. Not all of that noise is good noise, however. Narcos has taken its fair share of heat for its authenticity; many have criticized the acting on the show, mainly the accents, as several non-Colombian actors were cast to speak in accents that they just couldn’t seem to master. Even Pablo Escobar’s own son spoke out against the show, saying that the show had factual errors.
Now, someone who grew up in Cali and who was indirectly tied to the cartels of the region is speaking out, from a surprising field. Former America de Cali striker and new Colombian national team call-up Duván Zapata held no punches when he was asked about the hit TV show in a recent interview. “I don’t watch it,” he said to Il Secolo XIX. “A lot of the stories they tell are true, but there are other more realistic Colombian series. Narcos is made for gringos, it’s a commercial product.”
The Colombian–who left South America in 2013 to play for Italian side Napoli–also went on to question the show’s casting: “They cast a Brazilian as Escobar, is that realistic? El Chapo, El Patron del Mal, El Cartel de los Sapos… those are more realistic.”
When the 26-year-old striker played for America de Cali, the club had its assets frozen for its ownership’s alleged connection to drug cartels. That move impacted Zapata directly: “[America de Cali] couldn’t cash the money from sales or make signings. There were several payment problems for we players too.” He did say that that era has passed in the South American country: “Unfortunately that’s how Colombia was, but it’s quite different now. We’ve taken so many steps forward and today it’s a different country.”