Friday, January 30, 2015

Club Universidad de Chile – O’Higgins FC (10-01-2015)

Nothing more perfect than being able to combine a business trip with some groundhopping, particularly if it is in a new country. So, despite having landed at 10 AM, after a red-eye flight with little sleep, I was extremely excited to go with my friend C. to the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos in Chile’s capital city Santiago to see my first game. C. does not really go to football games, so he had asked a colleague, a ‘football expert’ whether we needed to buy tickets in advance. He had said we didn’t, and that made sense as Chilean games are hardly ever sold out.

As we get closer to the stadium we see more and more people wearing the shirt of home team Universidad de Chile, one of Chile’s biggest teams. I see no people wearing the shirt of the visitors O’Higgins, even though they come from a town that is only 87 km south of Santiago (this is nothing for Chile, which is, North to South, 4.300 km long)! Now, I know what you are thinking: O’Higgins, really? Fair enough! O’Higgins is neither a team from the Republic of Ireland nor a Chilean team founded by Irish immigrants. In fact, it is named after Bernardo O’Higgins, who was one of the leaders who freed Chile from Spain in the Chilean War of Independence in the early 19th century.

Anyway, back to the game. As we arrive at the stadium, we are told that we cannot buy tickets at the ticket office. However, we can buy tickets but online and then pick them up at the ticket office! Consequently, outside of old tiny ticket office various people are frantically on their smartphone, ordering tickets which they then pick up a yard away at that office. As you need an (Chilean) ID number for each ticket, my friend C can buy only one ticket. I can possibly get one too, but I have to, first, make a profile online and then, second, try to convince the computer that my US driver’s license number also counts as an ID. Might have worked, but they close the online system exactly at kick-off time, and the ticket office a minute earlier, so we and some 10 other people are left outside.

We circle around the stadium a bit, get ripped off with fake tickets, and then learn that Chile is not really Latin America, as they follow the rules even tighter than Dutch or Germans. Conclusion: no game! :-(

That same evening we find out what the rules are: for games of the three biggest teams in Chile, home or away, you can only buy tickets online and you have to use an ID that you can show at the stadium. The big three are all from Santiago: Colo Colo, Universidad Católica, and Universidad de Chile. For all other games you still need an official ID at the stadium, but you normally can buy tickets at the ticket office – in any case, always check out the Ticketpro website, as they have the monopoly on the online tickets, and you can better be safe than sorry (downside: you won’t get a nice ticket).

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