World cup mania will be upon us (is upon us already) in less than a week. If your travel plans take you to Santiago, during this eyes-on-the-screen season, how are you going to maximize your viewing pleasure? First things first, the word for soccer in Chile is fútbol. And what do we want to do? Ganar (win!). It’s not supremely likely, but if we can get past an 8.8 earthquake, surely we can win this thing!
Who to root for: Chile
Having said that, one of the most important issues facing Chile in soccer seems to be that we cannot draw Brazil. Chile and Brazil often meet, and it seldom works in Chile’s favor. The best we can occasionally hope for is an empate (tie). That means that whatever match you’re watching, you want the South American team to win, unless it’s Brazil, in which case you don’t, because we could have to play them.
What to wear: La Camiseta Oficial de la Selección Chilena
This is the red official team jersey of the Chilean team for the World cup. You can get one at any of the major department stores for $40-60 US, or buy a pirated version on the street (at Estación Central, for example) for significantly less.
When we’re playing:
Currently Chile is scheduled to play as follows:
Honduras on June 16th at 7:30 AM (local time)
Switzerland on June 21st at 10:00 AM (local time)
Spain on June 25th at 2:30 PM (local time)
Where to watch:
Many Chileans will be watching the matches from home, and while they are a friendly bunch, you are unlikely to get an invitation on such short notice.
Fuentes de Soda
A down-home experience would be going to one of the many green-signed “Fuentes de Soda” which are bars that serve beer and soft drinks, and surely will have a TV tuned to the matches. Look for these all over downtown and into Barrio Brasil.
Sports Bars/Gringo Bars
A more uppercrust/gringo option would be going to one of the gringo and wealthy Chilean-oriented sports bars in Providencia, Las Condes or Ñuñoa such as Pub Licity (which also has 1/2 price at the bar happy hour on food most days). Another option is Flannery’s Irish Geo Pub which will have several large screen TVs on hand.
On the street, Paseo Ahumada
But many Chileans will stand outside of the plate glass windows of the multitiendas (department stores) of Falabella, Almacenes Paris, etc, and watch the match on large screen TVs just on the other side, which are sure to broadcast the games at all hours of the day, and sure to waylay most office workers on their way into and out of work. There are also large screens (already up as of the 6th of June) on Ahumada which should stay up for the duration of the competition for passersby to gawk at.
In the Park
Parque Bicentennario in Vitacura (near the Vitacura Municipal Building) will have screens up and running for people to watch Chile for free, with other soccer-related events and competitions running concurrently. The park is located near the extension of Andres Bello (the costanera) north east of the rotunda Pérez-Zujovic. Bus #405 from the Alameda or Providencia will get you close, or you can walk from El Golf Metro (a bit of a walk). This event is sponsored by Hyundai, and is open from 8AM to 10PM during the world cup, more information (in Spanish) here.
On the big-big screen
Cinehoyts, one of the movie theater chains in Santiago is selling tickets to watch the world cup on the giant screen for 6,000 CLP (around $12 US) in HD, with surround sound. Check out the schedule on their website (and buy tickets) here for the first round. The second round schedule is not yet determined, but will be available for purchase as soon as it is.
A word of caution
When Chile is playing, you can pretty much assume the streets and transportation are clear for the entire 90 minutes. Afterwards though, there tends to be a bit of pandemonium, with a flash point at Plaza Italia (Baquedano on the red and green lines of the metro). You’re better off staying where you are than trying to get anywhere to, from, or past Plaza Italia after the game. Transportation is often disrupted, with rowdy fans doing what they do best, and many buses will actually pull out of circulation at this time to avoid damage.
Now get out there and root for Chile. It’s our first time in the world cup since 1998. The national chant goes like this: Chi-chi-chi- le-le-le, viva Chile! And you might also want to practice shouting gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool!
And for diehard fans who want to know the ins and outs and identify every player, I recommend this blog, whose author has an encyclopediac knowlege (and love) of the topic.