Thursday, May 22, 2008
South American soccer fans like flares, riots
Big Picture dad was in Santiago, Chile last week and went to a soccer game. He tells the tale aided by some photos.
My friend's favorite soccer team played a semi-final game last night at their National Stadium in Santiago. Fearing fights and damage to the stadium -- from the home fans! -- the place was filled with cops in full riot gear. Fans for each team were separated by police trucks and fences. These photos show the home team’s end zone, packed with fans. The team is La Universidad de Chile, known affectionately by their fans as The U. By the way, the rest of the stadium was essentially empty.
In the first photo you can see the cops in riot gear. Also note that the track is covered with plywood, to protect it from flares that the fans throw.
In the second photo, the “U” was made with flares that the fans organize on their own. What you can’t see are the fans singing and chanting the entire game. Very, very cool. (The home team lost -- but I was lucky enough to have to leave early and miss the inevitable damage to the stadium.) To say soccer fans in Chile are passionate is the understatement of the year.
[Correction: A terrible error was made in yesterday’s story of soccer in South America. The U is the University of Chile, not the University of Santiago. Our apologies. Anything to prevent these passionate U fans from coming here and messing with us.]