If you have never experienced a soccer game abroad, it is an experience to be remembered. Here in Santiago, Chile, the two big soccer teams are Colo Colo and Universidad de Chile. Colo Colo is usually considered the best team that Chile has, but Universidad de Chile is a close second. I went to a game last week at the Universidad de Chile stadium, with Universidad de Chile against Deportes Temuco.
Unlike university teams in the United States, Universidad de Chile is a professional team and the players do not have to attend the university to be eligible. Many of the players are also players on Chile’s national team, but the exact number varies by the year.
Universidad de Chile has won one South American cup in 2011, one Chile Supercup in 2015, five Chile Cups and 11 premier division championships. Most would say Colo Colo is their biggest rival. Each year the two teams have a face off, that is considered the most dangerous game to attend. This year’s game will be held on April 9 at Universidad de Chile’s field. In Chile, there is also a huge rivalry between Universidad de Chile and Universidad Catolica.
The two schools themselves represent the divide between the upper and middle class. Universidad Catolica, a private university, is often viewed as a school for the wealthy, while Universidad de Chile is a public school and typically thought of as more accessible for most people. This rivalry between the two schools also transfers to the rivalry between the teams. They also play each other every year and while it is not as dangerous as the game against Colo Colo, it is still an intense soccer game. This year’s game is scheduled for April 30 and will be at Universidad Catolica’s stadium.
The game that I attended was not a huge rivalry game. It was a Saturday night game where Universidad de Chile played against the team from Temuco, which is a city south of Santiago. Universidad de Chile won the game 1-0, but it was still a good football game. Both teams were moving the ball and making good plays.
Even though the score reflects a shutout game, Temuco had many shots on goal that could have resulted in goals.
It wasn’t just the athleticism on the field that made the game so exciting. It was the enthusiasm that the fans had for the game.
The best way to describe the atmosphere was as though it was the student section of a University of Maine men’s hockey game, but instead of only being that one section, it was the entire stadium. All the fans were invested in the game, singing songs and chants the entire time, changing based on what was happening on the field. There were songs encouraging Universidad de Chile to keep playing hard, there were songs when they were winning, there were even songs for when there were only a couple minutes left and they were still in the lead. When they won, the excitement was through the roof.
Almost everyone in the stadium was wearing a Universidad de Chile jersey. Even though they were all different jerseys, it made the stadium look as though it was just a sea of blue and red jerseys. My friends and I stuck out like sore thumbs not knowing any of the cheers and not wearing the blue and red jerseys. We weren’t isolated for this, though. The people sitting around us tried to teach us the cheers and tell us about what was happening. At one point I didn’t understand one of the chants and the man behind me leaned forward to explain it all to me.
Having never been to a professional soccer game, I had no idea what to expect. This game was more than I expected it to be, but in a good way. The excitement and love for the game was contagious, adding to the action happening on the field.