Chile, Brazil: No love lost on the football field

NEIL REID
Last updated 16:59 28/06/2014

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The sultry samba beats of South America are set to engulf sports bars around New Zealand in the early hours of tomorrow as the World Cup enters its sudden death stage.

The knock-out phase will begin with the keenly-anticipated clash between hosts Brazil and tournament darlings Chile shortly after 4am (New Zealand time).Bitter arch-rivals, Brazil have not lost to Chile for more than a decade.

There is no love lost between the two fiercely proud South American nations on the football field.

In 1989, a World Cup qualifier between the two countries was called off after Chilean goalkeeper Roberto Rojas fell to the ground clutching his bleeding face, claiming he had been hit in the head by a firework thrown by a Brazilian fan.

But it later turned out he had cut himself with a razor blade hidden in his goal-keeping gloves, cutting himself on the orders of team management and going down in a bid to have Brazil disqualified.

Rojas was later banned for life (with the ban eventually being lifted in 2001), while Chile felt the brunt of a Fifa ban from seeking qualification for the 1994 World Cup.

The match also featured the infamous abuse directed to the crowd by Romas' team-mate Patricio Yanez. After seeing Rojas rolling in pain, with blood coming from a wound on his face, he grabbed his own genitals and thrust them at the Brazilian crowd, then raised his fist at them.

On the eve of the match, the Honourary Consul for Chile, Gerry Williams, said a win over hosts Brazil would be widely celebrated; both among New Zealand's Chilean community and in the South American nation.

''Chile's going to beat Brazil,'' he said, optimistically.''There would be a street party going on all night [if they won]. The Chileans are on a roll ... they have a good chance.''

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Few countries have such a rich, and controversial, World Cup history as Chile.

In 1973, they qualified for the 1974 World Cup in Germany by defeating the USSR 1-0 in a final play-off match.

But they were always going to win the match after the USSR refused to travel to South America to contest the match in protest to the deadly revolution engulfing Chile.

Instead, Chile took to the National Stadium in Santiago, kicked off, calmly dribbled the ball down the pitch and eventually kicked the ball into the opposition's empty goal.

After writing itself in World Cup folklore for all the wrong reasons over the past four years, now the Chile team of 2014 are seeking to right the sins of the past.

- Auckland Now

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