When Kelsi and I heard that the FIFA under-20 World Cup was to be played this summer in Colombia we couldn't wait to attend! Hosting an event like this was a huge honor for Colombia and an awesome way for the country to show off their national pride. Additionally, I always appreciate good press associated with Colombia.
After months of reconstruction, the newly revamped stadium looked absolutely stunning - truly a world class place to watch a soccer game, so off we went last Sunday. For just about $23 each we attended the quarterfinal game between France and Nigeria. Unfortunately, the Colombian team lost the night before in their quarterfinal game against Mexico, however, spirits at the game were still high.
Walking in, I felt astonished at the organization, security and general aesthetics of the new stadium. We found our seats in the second row on the southeast (in the shade!) side of the stadium and enjoyed the game. We quickly figured out that we needed to be Nigeria fans based on our surroundings, and concluded this must be because Colombians sympathize more with a nation like Nigeria as opposed to France. Also, the Spanish and French have long been historical enemies and in talking with friends in Colombia I learned that French-Colombian relations have actually been tense for quite some time, including but not only related to the Ingrid Betancourt kidnapping.
So we cheered for Nigeria for the duration of the game, despite the fact that they always trailed by a goal or two. In the end they did not have enough to beat out the French, and lost with a final score of 3-2.
New stadium is just a ten minute walk from our front door!
France (blue) vs. Nigeria (white)
Gorgeous new stadium with the classic Cali symbol of the three crosses on the hill in the background.
I love cultural things like this in Colombia, and while I am still not the world's biggest soccer fan, there is something so incredibly cool about the way soccer penetrates every aspect of Colombian daily life. Colombians are passionately involved in soccer and they love cheering on all their favorite teams. And as an outsider looking in, this is so awesome to watch. If only everyone in the US felt this way about baseball...then life would be complete. :)