Monday, February 01, 2010

The Battle Of Santiago

I mentioned last week that Algeria and Egypt had possibly the fiercest rivalry in the soccer world, and the match they played on Friday included three red cards and some quite incredible fouls.

Dave Tyrrell watched the match, and e-mailed that while it was amazingly violent, it paled in comparison to the infamous The Battle Of Santiago, which was a 1962 World Cup group match between Italy and Chile.

Here's the context for the match (taken from the Wikipedia entry linked above):
In this Group 2 clash, already heightened tensions between the two football teams were exacerbated by the description of Santiago in crude terms by two Italian journalists. Chile's organization and preparation of the tournament had been exceptional; however, in 1960 the greatest earthquake ever recorded in human history affected the country heavily. Italian articles were edited and distorted by local newspapers to inflame the Chilean population. The distorted versions are still quoted on the internet. The journalists, Antonio Ghirelli and Corrado Pizzinelli, had to leave the country before the World Cup fearing for their own safety: a few days before the match an Argentinian journalist, mistaken for an Italian, was beaten up in a bar in Santiago.

How long did it take before the first foul? Twelve seconds.

Incredibly, there is an excellent 3+ minute highlight package of the match which you can view here. Announcer David Coleman introduced the highlights this way:
Good evening. The game you are about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game

Once you watch the highlights, I think you'll agree with him. And even if you're not a soccer fan, the sense of time and place in the video is quite remarkable.

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