It’s been a classic South American World Cup qualifying week as results shock the ladder. From the failure of TAS to appease the Bolivians and Argentinas behind closed doors only a couple of days ago it was on the field where the work was done.
The qualifying round took us first to Santiago, Chile where La Roja, thanks to TAS’ decision, stayed in fourth position (automatic World Cup qualification) played host to Paraguay who sat outside qualification.
For the Chilean side it was a must win as automatic qualification was at touch distance and imperative as Argentina are hot on their heels one point behind them. However, if we have learnt anything watching CONMEBOL matches, nothing is easy or as predictable.
Bravo; Jara, Medel, Isla; Beausejour, Sánchez, Vidal, Aranguiz, Diaz, Castillo, Vargas
Chile, two-time Copa America champions were expected, with all due respect to Paraguay, to run away with this one and take the points but it was a strange night for the Chileans as nothing seemed to go to plan for Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men.
If a new addition to the line up in Nicolas Castillo was enough to distract the starting XI, off the field matters took their toll.
Chile’s gossip circle has always had a vested interest with their players, especially their overseas stars who, in their own right, shot to the highest of heights in a short time. Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez, Gary Medel, Claudio Bravo, the ‘golden boys’ they call them have never, since retuning to Chile for international fixtures, had time to soak in the beautiful country and focus on their duty but be caught out by media attacking their personal lives.
The world knows how much his services are heavily wanted. After three seasons with Arsenal FC and after 100 appearances and 53 goals he has decided, and according to a number news paper outlets, it is time to draw the curtain with this time with the gunners.
It’s no secret after the stamp he has left the English Premier League he was the hottest player to grab on the market which begs the question, after the transfer window opened and now shut, why wasn’t Sanchez throughout the final hours of Deadline Day never picked up?
What is worse however, how the fiasco between the player, manager, team representatives and other parties left it until Deadline Day and 24 hours prior to a crucial World Cup qualifier to not signing for anyone?
The mental toll reached its peak and the world saw it throughout Sanchez’ performance in last night’s Chile’s 0-3 loss to Paraguay. Chile’s number 7 looked loss, tired and disinterested.
The media plays a crucial part in the futures of players. Reports and rumours are spread as soon as a player reacts or likes something on social media or comments are twisted, it’s tiring. For the fans to watch an individual performance of that calibre on the international stage is not fair. It is also not fair for the player’s welfare to play on that stage with a million thoughts running through their head. To know 24 hours before a match that your transfer did not go through and you are stuck in a team that did not let you go and worse for representatives of the team who wants you fly into Chile, disrupt your camp that’s shocking. It should not work like that. It’s a bad industry though, sadly, that is the football world we live in.
We know, from Vidal’s very public social media platforms there is nothing he does not show. From his personal life with his family to his football life, training, pre-game and post-game posts it is Vidal at his happiest, well from what we see in Germany.
The tide changes ever strongly when Vidal is called upon to join his teammates on international duty and it is off to Santiago and to the Juan Pinto Duran sporting complex home of the ANFP Chile’s football governing body and La Roja’s training base.
Chile’s ‘Guerrero’ at home has never been received with other than open arms and with kids’ adoring eyes, however, the journalists and news outlets beg to see him with opposing eyes.
Yes, his reputation precedes him and a few of past and present Chilean players who enjoy their days free from camp a little too much, but how is that a cue for commentators, journalists and gossipers to invade their personal life and destroy them continuously? It’s not.
Two years ago, as Chile entered the stages of camp prior to their Copa America 2015 group stage match, coach Pizzi allowed his team a couple days free. Some players decided to spend time with their families and friends and El Rey chose to spend a night at one of Chile’s biggest casino the Monticello. After spending a few hours there, Arturo called it a night and drove home in the dark streets in his red Ferrari. Sadly, Vidal ran his car off the road and crashed the Italian Stallion thankfully he was not hurt but his image was absolutely destroyed.
HEADLINE: “Video of Arturo Vidal at the casino Monticello apparently before the accident.”
HEADLINE: “The thousands of dollars Vidal had won before the accident.”
HEADLINE: “[Video] images show Arturo Vidal at the Monticello before the accident.”
A night gone wrong, a night that went unpunished. Vidal still after a tormenting 24 hours pulled on the red jersey, played his heart out and Chile won.
Soon after however, Vidal then had to post a video message of his response of reports for La Roja faithful.
Now, a man who wears Chile on his sleeve got over the drama and knew the “farándula” or “show business, gossip, press” blew it out of context and again they did only a few days ago. Again, Pizzi allowed his players two nights off before their match against Paraguay at the Monumental stadium and Vidal took his night off to the Monticello with his mates. Just as the other story, he called it a night and went home and as this press did not involve him but his mates who he left behind and paid the bar tab for, caused a stir at the casino leaving a very bad name on Vidal.
The media ran with this story I mean, what’s better than a football player leaving a casino leaving bar tabs open and mates causing a riot? Nothing. It sells out.
HEADLINE: “Arturo Vidal’s party at a hotel was stopped by police.”
So, rightfully we saw a performance that we are not used to. A lost Arturo on the field, not commanding or threatening. It was a shocker. Can we blame him look at these pages:
HEADLINE: “Arturo Vidal does not remember the scandal at the casino Monticello: “you’re going to continue to dirty my image?”
HEADLINE: “Vidal was protagonist in a drama at the Monticello.”
HEADLINE: “review the words of an emotional Vidal and his explanation of what happened in Monticello”
Media causes a huge stir yet the business does not think about waiting 24-48 hours before a game to publish and print nor do they think about the family or even worse the player involved realises every time he returns to his home country he is under attack and reached boiling point saying he is ever ready to leave his home nation? No. But Vidal reached that point.
These two men are a God’s gift to the national team and country. It may seem I am being dramatic but it is true. Chile is blessed with this generation and so is world football. At home and in instances abroad every player not just them deserves respect. The ripple effects are clear. They hurt everyone involved.