Early yesterday morning, former El Salvador international and New York Red Bull player Alfredo Pacheco was shot and killed at a gas station in his home country. According to a Reuter’s report by Nelson Renteria, the 33-year-old defender was talking to friends “when an unknown assailant shot at the group various times.”
Pacheco played for Club Deportivo FAS and Asociación Deportiva Isidro Metapán in El Salvador, featured 14 times for NY while on loan in 2009, and earned 86 appearances for his country from 2002 to 2013, making him the most capped player in Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol history.
Pacheco’s devastating assassination is the second death of a Central American soccer player at home this month, after Honduras’ Arnold Peralta was shot and killed while vacationing in his home town a couple of weeks ago. As I wrote upon the time of Peralta’s murder, humanity can often be overlooked amidst profuse statistics and soccer-related numbers. But Pacheco’s death is another shockingly tragic incident that – rather than being turned into a mere number – can hopefully serve as a loud call to combat gang violence and incite a change that has been all too elusive.
While Honduras ranks very high in terms of gang violence, El Salvador has been experiencing its deadliest year on record: a 55% increase in homicides compared to 2014 and over 6000 murders. In September, The Guardian reported that El Salvador had seen its “highest number of murders since its bloody 12-year civil war ended in 1992 as violence between gangs grows ever more deadly.” On average, the country experiences 17 murders a day, the majority of which are gang related.