Head of Chilean Football Federation resigned during defeat by Uruguay
19 November ~ Tuesday evening’s 2018 World Cup qualifier between Uruguay and Chile was never likely to be an amiable affair. For the Uruguayans, their elimination from last summer’s Copa América at the hands of the Chileans still grates, most acutely because of Gonzalo Jara’s infamously intrusive provocation of Edinson Cavani, which resulted in the latter’s expulsion.
So with Chile visiting Montevideo just five months after that tempestuous game, expectation levels were high in the Uruguayan capital. The match sold out weeks in advance and while both sets of staff and players were publicly downplaying the animosity, the public, as El País put it, would “play out their own game”.
The Chileans, meanwhile, saw an opportunity to earn their first ever win in Uruguay, television journalist Fernando Solabarrieta stating: “I am happy because the Centenario [Stadium] no longer scares me. And the Uruguayans even less.” There was also talk in the Chilean press that the national side could reach top spot in the FIFA rankings if results during this international break went their way.
Such ambitions looked misplaced in the aftermath of the match, the hosts running out 3-0 winners in a typically Uruguayan display, subduing their talented opponents while being ruthlessly clinical in front of goal themselves. The Chileans failed to live with the intensity of the atmosphere, Jorge Valdívia received a red card for abusing the referee, while coach Jorge Sampaoli and forward Eduardo Vargas are likely to face sanctions for their conduct on the night (the latter flicking the finger to the home support as he was substituted). For the Chileans, though, the evening was just as troubling for what was happening back at home.
While Sampaoli’s team were preparing for the match, the head of the Chilean Football Federation, Sergio Jadue, was resigning from his position, just days after he was placed on a month’s medical leave. Pictures then emerged of Jadue passing through Santiago airport under police guard and boarding a plane to the US late on Tuesday night, amid rumours that he is to act as a protected informant to the FBI’s investigation into the FIFA corruption scandal.
Jadue is a close ally of Sampaoli and many Chileans will remember that the departure of Jadue’s predecessor, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, precipitated the exit of the hugely popular coach Marcelo Bielsa, the man who started Chile’s emergence as a major player in world football.
In both his pre and post-match interviews, Sampaoli was forced into answering questions about what Jadue’s departure meant for his future. He admitted not know what was going on but that “hopefully” he could continue in the role. The whole of Chile will be wishing the same. Marcus Haydon