Posted: 6/18/2014


There is a SANTIAGO in Spain where they walk on their knees and pray a lot, and there is one in CHILE, the capital city in fact,,,where they are bouncing up and down and partying through the night. LA ROJA, the defending champions are out of the 2014 cup after 5-1 defeats to Holland and 2-0 to Chile. I just returned from MARACANA, which was a sea of red, but it was the Chilean red fans that took over the stadium and the CIDADE MARAVILHOSA. The Spaniards have had a great run the last 8 years or so but need to rebuild. Thanks for the memories.

My last visit to Chile was about 30 years ago( my first was after 1978 Scotland v Holland 3-2 in Mendoza, Argentina and a return home via bus over the Andes to Santiago airport). I was taken to the Estadio Nacional for a league match, a place with a dark history. It had been used as a prison for left wing protesters and many were tortured and executed there by the Augusto Pinochet regime. So bad that when the Soviet Union was told to play there in a World Cup play-off match they refused. We had the ridiculous situation of the Chilean team showing up and the referee blew his whistle, the team ran down the field and scored a goal. Another FIFA moment of shame. I was given a free room in the top hotel for a few days next to the palace were Allende died, and the bullet holes still in the wall.

The match took place 21 November 1973 two months after Salvador Allende was overthrow in a coupe d'etat. The first match in Moscow 26th September finished 0-0. The Soviets flew to Santiago but FIFA President Sir Stanley Rous refused the request to move to another stadium. The Chileans were given a walk-over and went to the 1974 Finals in West Germany, losing to the hosts 1-0, drawing with East Germany 1-1 and with Australia 0-0.

Back in 1962 at the same stadium we witnessed a very nasty contest Chile v Italy World Cup disgrace. The referee was a future friend of mine Ken Aston. The Italians kicked and punched their opponents and Aston eventually called in the riot police to escort on Giorgio Ferrini off the pitch in the 12th minute off the pitch. They had to intervene three more times. The first foul was in 12 seconds! It all started when two Italian journalists had written derogatory articles in the Italian press and had to leave the country due to threats, even before the Cup began. No TV in Europe but BBC showed 'highlights' 24 hours later when film reached London by air.

The 2014 World Cup has been fairly peaceful with tight security and rival fans and neutrals enjoying each others company....and I hope it continues that way