6700 strong, they chanted…the entire game!! A small crowd, too be sure, but passionate none-the-less.
Fair warning: I am not a soccer, errr…football fan. In fact, I don’t exactly know much about the game despite having played a little myself during high school. But, being in Latin America, we knew we had to take a game in just to experience it.
I went to experience the crowd as much as to watch the game, and I wasn’t disappointed…don’t worry mom(s), there was no hooliganism and if there had been there was more than enough riot police around the manage it ;-)
When we arrived the game appeared to be in progress and, for a little while we thought maybe we were late. I was disappointed as the crowd was thin and the chanting was practically non-existent. In fact, the crowd (unsurprisingly) was more interested in the buxom blonde in the endzone than in the game.
We soon realized though that we were not late but that the game we came to see was actually starting an hour later than we had thought. The crowd slowly filled as the starting time drew near.
The ends of the stadium are where the most fanatical fans are typically found…luckily I had read this before purchasing tickets and so we had wisely bought tickets in the section on the center line…you can’t get much more politically benign than the center line!
The second the starting whistle blew they started…CHI-CHI-CHI-LAY-LAY-LAY! Universidad de Chile!! Viva Chile!! The flares were lit, the crowd jumped in unison and arms were pumping. The drumming started and, from that moment on, the endzone was alive. One organism, moving and chanting through a repertoire that must be preordained as they all knew what came next, for the entire half of the game.
When the halftime whistle blew they all became eerily silent…I guess everyone needs a break for a hot dog and a coke!
The minute the whistle blew again they were at it again. I have to admit that I watched them more than I watched the game – they were fascinating!
Even more fascinating was the dance between the banner-boys and the riot police. The banner-boys teams each slowly made their way to the fence line to furtively affix their banners exalting their favourite players. Almost as soon as they were finished, the police strolled by, exciting panic in the banner-boys as they rushed down to quickly remove their banners before they were confiscated.
The banner-boys then stood stoically back in the stands, holding their banners, rooting for their team. Then, all at once, they rushed the fencing together and, once and for all, display their banners along the fence-line. Somehow, for some reason, it was now okay to tie banners to the fencing…I even saw riot police taking banner-boys cameras and snapping pictures for them. Must just be the steps of a dance that I am unaware of.
Oh yeah….and the game…I don’t even know the outcome. It started so late that the metro was well finished for the night – knowing we had to take a taxi back to town we decided to leave a little early to avoid messing with the crowd. It was tied when we left…I really am the world’s worst futbol fan!!