2019 is over, just like the football season. Chile Today looks back to a 2019 season that was canceled early with six matches left to play, Universidad Católica successfully defended their 2018 Primera division title: 2019 title is their 14th.
It was a near-perfect campaign from Gustavo Quinteros’ men, who never really looked likely to loosen their grip on the Primera division. They had crushing victories against Cobresal (5-0) and Antofagasta (5-1), and, perhaps most impressive of all, they destroyed Universidad de Chile (4-0).
Regardless, the title will forever be questioned and remembered as the season that could not reach its natural conclusion. However, with six matches left to play, U. Católica led their nearest opponents (Colo Colo) by 13 points and with an impressive goal difference of 30 to 7; so while mathematically possible, it would have taken a complete collapse for the Crusaders to give up their lead.
Before the season started, U. Católica received a confidence boosting victory in the Super Cup final in Sausalito Stadium in Viña del Mar. They claimed their 2nd Super Cup with a 5-0 victory over Palestino.
Another Fantastic Season for Palestino
Palestino finished 3rd just two points behind Colo Colo, a result which gives them another chance to qualify for the Copa Libertadores. Their Argentine striker Lucas Passerini, who earlier this month confirmed he will be staying with Santiago-based team, won this season’s golden boot by scoring 14 goals.
As with many teams and players there is a great uncertainty facing the 2020 season. The impact this will have on the team’s ability to progress in international tournaments remains to be seen, but it will clearly have an impact on securing player contracts.
An unfolding situation regarding Roberto Gutiérrez’s contract has puzzled fans. A player who scored 10 goals last season has apparently not had his contract with Palestino renewed. This has led to rumors that the striker is destined to return to his boyhood team of U. Católica where he will surely be welcomed.
Dilemma for the ANFP
The ANFP had no choice but to suspend all football fixtures in mid-October. However, their attempts to revive the season in late November were met with widespread disapproval. A match between Unión La Calera and Iquique at the Municipal Stadium of La Florida was abandoned in the 67th minute as a group of protesters entered the field of play.
Subsequently, players from Colo Colo and Coquimbo agreed not to play their fixture the following day. Eventually, a majority of representatives from the league’s teams voted for the season to be canceled. During the ANFP’s planned recommencement only one fixture was played between Cobresal and Union Español and the teams complained afterwards that insufficient safety precautions were provided by the ANFP.
As with the other league matches, the ANFP decided to stop the Copa Chile tournament which had reached the semi-final stages. A decision was made to play both matches as single-legged series in January 2020. U. Católica will play Colo Colo and U. Chile will play Unión Española. The winners of each match will then contest a final to see who lifts the Copa that Palestino could not defend from last season. They were instead eliminated in controversial fashion in the second round for fielding an ineligible player.
Perhaps one of the more controversial aspects of the league postponement was the decision to cancel all promotions and relegations. This decision may have far-reaching consequences, especially as it seemed possible that both U. Chile and U. Concepción were going to face the drop to division B. The two avoided the guillotine, but at the expense of the Santiago Wanderers and La Serena who seemed likely to gain promotion. The repercussions of the ANFP’s decision will linger on for these teams.
John is a volcanologist, sports fan, radio broadcaster, and accomplished musician. Born and raised in Britain, he has travelled extensively for his research on volcanoes. Whilst living in London, UK, John performed in the punk bands ‘And Now We’re Even’ and ‘Filthy Militia’ recording six studio albums and two EP’S over this time. He currently lives in Santiago, Chile where he works as a university professor in rock mechanics.