Football has a rich and exciting history across the world, but how did “the beautiful game” find its way to the shores of Chile? How did interest in the sport travel over 7,000 miles from Great Britain to the South American continent? Keep reading to find out.
Today, football is the most watched sport on TV in Chile and welcomes thousands of fans into stadiums there every week. Chilean fans enjoy watching the beautiful game with friends and placing bets on their favorite teams through casas de apuestas. Let’s discover the events that led up to this explosion of love for the sport in Chile.
The great British introduction
Football was first introduced to Chile in the 1800s by the English, who they were in a trading relationship with at the time. The English sailors would play football matches on their ships and on land, and this quirky new game caught the attention of Chileans living near the ports. They loved the game and word quickly spread through the towns and cities along the coast.
The Chilean people started to incorporate the game into their own traditions. This started with richer families who would play football matches against one another, but eventually it became a known sport among all classes living in the country. It became a unifying feature of Chilean life, connecting richer and poorer people through a shared fascination with football.
The first Chilean football club
Chile’s relationship with football was solidified when its first official club was founded. The establishment of Valparaiso Football Club in 1892 gave Chileans the first opportunity to compete in official games, wear an official kit and travel to face rivals on the pitch. It gave fans of the sport a team to root for and venues to attend.
The Chile national football team
In the early 1900s, the first iteration of Chile’s national football team came into existence. They played their first ever international match in 1910 and have gone on to compete in hundreds of international tournaments, including nine World Cups. The team performs well in international tournaments, having come third in the World Cup they hosted in 1962.
The South American championship
Just a few decades after the founding of Valparaiso Football Club, and only a few years after the establishment of the national team, Chile helped establish the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), which is still played today under the name Copa America.
This event brings together over a dozen teams from several South American countries, including Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Peru. It’s a fantastic event that invites football fans across the continent to engage with this timeless sport.
The future of football in Chile
The future of Chilean football is bright. Since Chile joined the international football community, they have impressed fans around the world with their immense skill. The country’s love of the game is palpable and this passion was reignited in 2016 when they finished fourth in the FIFA rankings.