Nickname: La Roja
US Sports team equivalent:
Player to Watch: El Niño Maravilla, Alexis Sanchez.
Artist to Watch: La Ley is probably the most well known rock en español act from Chile
From the time of the Inca and the Mapuche, Chile has had a rich tradition of music and culture. Today, one of the principal aspects of this cultural heritage is Chile’s love affair with the game of soccer. In a continent that is passionate and fervent about this sport, Chile is no stranger to this fever.
Chile’s national character is forged in its mixture of native inhabitants, Spanish conquest, European migration and a health mix of Lebanese immigrants. All this is reflected in some of the teams of the Chilean league: Audax Italiano, U. Catolica, Palestino, O’Higgins, Colo Colo and others.
Chile’s music reflects this mix of cultures and influences. Folk music distinctively divided by Chile’s three geographic zones, North, Central & South. Chile’s “Nueva Cancion” also commands popularity together with a very healthy Rock music scene. However, no other style commands the popularity and cultural roots that Cueca, Chile’s national dance does. According to Pedro Humberto Allende, a Chilean composer, “Neither the words nor the music obey any fixed rules; various motives are freely intermingled.”
Although his work will likely never chart, Chilean DJ Ricardo Villalobos is considered one of the better minimalists around. Perhaps, that’s the way his whole nation would prefer it. Hugging the continent that houses 9 World Cup trophies, Chile’s musical history is marked by introspective movements like the Villalobos-associated La Armada Chilena and the mid-1960′s folk-revival La Nueva Canción Chilena.
La Roja has an impressive history of soccer success, dating back 114 years, second longest in South America. They are one of the big four founders of South American soccer, with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. They qualified for the original World Cup, only one of 13 teams. But if they are one of the founding fathers of soccer in the southern hemisphere, they are the Ben Franklin of the party, their signature is everywhere, but they never got elected president.
Since the inception of the World Cup, La Roja has qualified for almost half of all tournaments. However, this success in qualifying has yet to yield any deep penetration into the tournament, with their best showing a third place finish in the 1962 competition.
Soccer gained popularity in Chile in the late 1900s. By the 1930’s a professional league had been established. So much was the passion for this sport that the country was awarded the honor of hosting the World Cup in 1962. Chile placed a respectable 3rd in this competition and since then has experienced highs and lows in international competition, including disqualification from the 1990 & 1994 World Cups for one of the most unflattering incidents in FIFA history. Chile has not been present in a World Cup since 1998.
For the South Africa 2010 qualification games, Chile was determined to make things different. Chile started strong and never looked back, eventually finishing second in the qualifying group. Chile’s celebrations after punching their ticket for the 2010 World Cup had barely died down when a devastating earthquake hit the coast early this year. A country that is no stranger to tragedy, the massive earthquake only strengthened Chileans’ resolve.
As for the World Cup itself, 2010 offers some hope for a reversal of Chile’s historical trend. Placed in a group with Spain, one of the favorites, will not make the path easy, but placing second in the World Cup Qualifier (behind big-boy Brazil) should give Chile the energy to push out of their group stage.
What does Chile bring to South Africa for this year’s World Cup? A squad of young and talented players and a tight group, Chileans could be dancing de Cueca for a little longer this time around.
Once again Dan Vaughn helped with this post.