August 23rd, 2004

Footy

Football

Sunday afternoon football is my regular passtime. So I had already decided that having missed out on Argentine football, I had to see a match in Chili instead. There were 5 matches in the afternoon, so I guessed at least one of them must be in Santiago. I was right, but the newspaperman who advised me, told me to go to Valparaiso, as the important match would be played there.

So after 11 hours in the bus overnight, the same afternoon I found myself back at the busstation for another 2 hour busdrive to the coast. As I was late I took a taxi to the stadion, actually more expensive as the returntrip to the capital by bus.

I guessed for a queue for the ticket booths and bought a gallery, ended up behind one of the goal, where I sat down a few meters from the fanatical home crowd. The hometeam confused me from the start. They are called Santiago Wanderers, yet they are not from Santiago, but from Valparaiso. And to make it even worse, the stadium is in Vina del Mar. Never mind, I like the stadium, even though it is nothing special, just a lot of concrete, but it is nice to sit in the sun, watching the teams warm up and the hardcore fans prepare for the match by handing out paper rolls to be thrown, hanging banners on the fences, practicing for the singing and distributing a few gasbottles that seem have had a previous life as fireextinguishers, but are probably now used to get some nice colourful smoke into the air.



It is also funny to see that there are policemen around, they check everybody on their way in, yet 4 meters in front of me a young guy is selling sandwiches and he is using a huge knife to cut the bread. And he even lets is lying on the table while he sits down at a quiet moment..

The game is fun. The visitors are Universidad Catolica from the capital, a team that has received a lot of praise lately and also today is a lot better than the hometeam. Yet after a few missed chances, the Santiago Wanderers score from their first serious opportunity. Halfway the first half, there is a moment of unity, as through the radio (which a lot of people had with them) we hear that Nicolas Massu has just one the gold medal in Tennis in Athens.

The home team fanatics next to me manage to keep singing all the way through the match, most of the time jumping at the same time. Respect for their dedication. At half time some scarcely dressed ladies come to do a little dance on the pitch and also pick the winner of a shirt from the big bowl that the sponsor brought with them. They go for a lap of honour afterwards, prompting many supporter to shout very flattering words in their direction, which they receive gracefully.

The second half is entertaining, with the visitors equalling after a quarter. Our side is getting a bit fresh now, with the sun being lower and us in the shade, while on the opposite side, we can still see supporters jumping up and down with their shirt over their head, a custom I haven´t seen much in Europe yet, but quite normal in South America apparently. The visitors manage to score two in the last 10 minutes, the second being the prompt for many hometown fan to leave the stadium. It is also the first time the fanatics stopped singing. Though that only lasted half a minute, then they went again, more out of habit than really convinced that it might make a difference.

The referee and his linesmen then sheltered behind several riot police, before going into the tunnel, though I couldn´t see why. The players of the opposition jumped back when a few papers were thrown on the pitch. One by one they were brought to the tunnel by the police, it was funny to see. Had they just walked there all together immediately nothing would have happened, they could have waved at the crowd. Now that they showed their fear, it gave a few youngsters time to find some things to throw and so they did. Universidad Catolica are the new leaders in the Chilean competition.