Chileans’ patriotism has been at its peak these past weeks of the World Cup, fans following, cheering and suffering for “La Roja”, the country’s national team. (Roja for their red jerseys.) The team sadly lost today’s match with five-time world champion Brazil, but just by a hair, specifically by one overtime penalty kick. La Roja played valiantly.
Besides their great playing, most impressive was the singing of Chile’s national anthem at the start of each game. The Chilean players and the fans sang their hearts out in their first two matches. Today became a virtual competition of national anthems, the yellow-shirted Brazilian fans attempting to outdo the previous Chilean performances.
The days of the games all hearts in this small country beat as one, each goal celebrated with cheers, whistles, shouts and horns honking in every neighborhood. It is times like this when I identify closely with my adopted country. I sense what it feels to be Chilean.
The local media has brain-washed me, not usually a fan of soccer. I now know the names and nicknames of the most outstanding players along with their identifying haircuts and tattoos. The television cameras took me into their modest homes, interviewing family members, next door neighbors and former school friends.
Soon the news will return to its usual menu of student protests, strikes and political wrangling, while newspapers advertise the latest model imported cars and packages to the Caribbean in full page ads. Is it only sports and earthquakes that are capable of unifying this country? Consumerism and political ideologies leave little space for the growth of civic mindedness.