How Chileans experience and follow the World Cup

Whether at work, school, the movies or the street, Chilean fans won’t miss a single one of the matches of the national soccer team, or “La Roja”, as it’s called.

Millions of Chileans have already made preparations to follow and experience the World Cup like no other time in history.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is a worldwide festivity. And Chile, fortunately, will be part of the celebration. A historic second place in the South American playoffs will allow the country to participate in the international contest, led by the technical director Marcelo Bielsa and figures that promise to become stars in the soccer firmament.

In its eighth participation in a World Cup tournament, Chile will play its debut match against Honduras on 16 June in the city of Nelspruit. One little detail: the match will be at 7:30 am Chilean time. Any problem? None at all! Millions of Chileans have already made preparations to follow and experience the World Cup like no other time in history. Some are even intending to stay up all night.

In fact, in a ranking prepared by Facebook Chile heads the list of the most passionate fans in the world for this Cup. This calculation was made taking into account the number of fans registered for each national team in the social network and dividing the result by the population connected to the internet in each country. Chile appears as number one, followed by Honduras, Uruguay and Serbia.

Because of the time difference with South Africa, Chile’s initial three matches will be played in the morning, Chilean time. This has led a majority of companies, schools and other institutions to make arrangements to watch the matches collectively, in specially-appointed TV rooms. In fact, to ensure that children and adults don’t miss any of the national team’s matches, a few months ago a congressman presented a project that proposed placing television sets in the school classrooms and suspending classes while Chile is playing. This also includes people at work, who will be allowed to take a break to watch the matches. The measure has already been backed by the current Minister of Education, Joaquín Lavín, who asserted: “Children must also be allowed to see the World Cup matches”.

Others will prefer to watch the matches at home. Many will get together around a big barbecue and enjoy delicious Chilean empanadas (meat-filled pastries), friends and a bottle of good Chilean wine, which can’t be absent at any celebration.

There are also those who will want to watch the matches at some public locale: Flannery’s Pub in the Suecia District; Bar Stadium at the Plaza Vespucio Mall; Bar Sísmico in Providencia and Pub Licity in El Bosque (where they hand out free beers if Chile wins), are part of the extensive list of Santiago night spots that will be offering good drinks, food and entertaining conversation to enjoy with friends throughout this great soccer event.

The more fanatical of the followers will decide to express their effusiveness and enthusiasm while watching the giant screen located on the corner of Ahumada and Moneda, in the center of Santiago, where it is a tradition for Chileans to meet and watch the major milestones of their national sport.
But these aren’t the only options to follow the progress of “La Roja”.

In Chile the tournament will be transmitted by the TVN channel using High Definition (HD) digital television technology in the cities of Santiago, Concepción and Talcahuano. The main cinema chains of the country, Cinemark, Hoyts, Cinemundo and Movieland, will make halls available where they will show all the matches played by “La Roja” in South Africa in HD, in addition to the semi-finals and the final. The pre-sale ticket prices are 2,000 Chilean pesos, whereas during the matches the tickets will be sold at 6,000 Chilean pesos.

If the result is positive and Chile wins its early matches, huge celebrations will be in order. The venue will be the Plaza Italia, a nerve-center where fans celebrate waving Chilean flags and give vent to their joy until the wee hours of the morning. From then on, the party continues wherever a good time is to be had.

This post is also available in Spanish