December 2 – In an unprecedented move that has drawn football inexorably into the political arena, Chile has cancelled the entire rest of its domestic season following weeks of anti-government protests that have led to a reported 26 deaths and hundreds of serious injuries.
All matches were suspended when the violence first began and the decision has now been taken to abandon the six remaining fixtures, with no teams relegated or promoted and Universidad Católica, who were leading by 13 points, declared league champions for the 14th time in their history.
What began as a student protest over an increase in subway fares has turned into a massive revolt with thousands taking to the streets demanding better social services and pensions amid concern over the gap between rich and poor.
Football is Chile’s most popular sport, with a number of the country’s biggest stars plying their trade in Europe, including Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Bravo.
Last month national team players took the rare collective step of pulling out of an away friendly with rivals Peru in support for the nationwide protest movement against social inequality and high living costs. Chile had also been scheduled to play Bolivia at home but that too was cancelled.
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