A Clásico is a match between two rival teams in the world of football and there are plenty of them in el mundo hispano-hablante. Clásicos De Futbol is a monthly series that will delve into the rivalry of a different set of teams. This month, we take a look at the Superclásico Chileno between Club Social y Deportivo Colo-Colo and Club Universidad de Chile.
In 1925, football club Deportes Magallanes S.A.D.P. (then known as Deportes Magallanes and originally founded as Atlético Escuela Normal in 1897) faced a huge crisis. Young forward David Arellano and a group of players made a number of managerial and economic demands against the club including the establishment of a weekly training regimen and distribution of a complete football kit to each player. You know, the things every legit club all the way down to youth scrimmage leagues does nowadays!
The older gents in the club laughed them off and Arellano and the rest held a number of meetings at Quita Penas bar that, on April 19th resulted in the creation of a new club. Luis Contreras chose the name Colo-Colo in honor of the legendary toqui/lonco Mapuche hero of the Arauco War, memorialized in the Spanish epic poem La Araucana de Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga. Contreras chose the name based on his desire to identify the team with something truly Chilean.
Two years later, on May 24th, Club Universidad de Chile is born following the fusion of Internado F.C., Atlético Universitario and Náutico Universitario. The roots of the team, however, go back further. The first university football team was Instituto Nacional in 1896 followed by Instituto Pedagógico F.C. and Internado F.C. in 1902. The large number of university teams lead to a brief golden age of Clásicos Universitarios between Club Universidad and Universidad Católica Football Club. Rumors of consecrated holy water used on the pitch by the latter were never confirmed.
The citizens of Santiago, Chile’s capital, are quite the entitled bunch. They get not one, not two, but SIX first division teams all to themselves. Colo-Colo and Universidad occupy the city alongside Audux Italiano, C.D. Palestino, Unión Española, and Universidad Católica (where Franciscan monks pull off blasphemous Chilenas!). You can’t have six teams in a large city without having at least one rivalry and the best one goes to Colo-Colo vs. Universidad.
The rivalry, as is almost always the case, pits Chile’s two most successful clubs against each other. Let’s count the silverware!
Colo holds 20 league titles and 10 Copa Chile trophies while Uni boasts 16 league titles and four Copa Chile titles. Both teams are also the only teams in Chile’s history to win both a league title and a Copa Chile in the same year. Uni did it in 2000 while Colo did it in 1981, 1989, 1990, and 1996. Colo is also the only Chilean team to win the Copa Libertadores while Universidad holds that honor for the Copa Sudamericana.
THE ETERNAL JUNCTION BETWEEN POLITICS & SPORTS
The rivalry took on a strange political twist during the era of dictator Augusto Pinochet. The team’s most successful streak occurred while Pinochet was in power and he was, in fact, also named the team’s honorary president.
Universidad de Chile plays its home games at the Estadio Nacional de Chile and has done so since 1939. The stadium became a de-facto prison/detention area for Pinochet’s dictatorship following his coup against Salvador Allende. The very same pitch where La U plays against El Eterno Campeon is where thousands of left-wing supporters of Allende, including musician Victor Jara, where detained, tortured, and murdered.
Sports/Politics journalist Dave Zirin wrote a wonderful piece about his own experience at the Chilean superclásico in 1995 following the death of Pinochet. It’s definitely worth reading.
There has also been a long-running story, some say myth, that El Monumental, Colo-Colo’s home stadium, was built with funds that came directly from Pinochet.
A NEW ERA FOR CHILEAN FOOTBALL
The latest version of Electronic Arts’s football video game title, FIFA14, made a handful of new additions that made thousands of people in South America very happy. FIFA14 is the first title in the series to include football leagues from Colombia, Argentina, and Chile. Fans can recreate the superclásico any time they please!
Colo-Colo also has the unique distinction of being the first football team in South America to sign a deal with USA athletic gear company Under Armour. The company signed a five-year contract with Colo earlier this month and will design and develop the team’s uniforms, including replicas for the fans, and will outfit the team with their line of shoes.