Thursday 22 June 2017

Chilean cabinet challenges miners to football game

Chilean authorities may have greeted them with oxygen tanks and stretchers, but President Sebastian Pinera has challenged the 33 miners to a physical contest -- a football match.

The men have been invited to play Mr Pinera and 10 cabinet members on October 25. It is not clear where the game will be played.

"The team that wins will stay in La Moneda (presidential palace). The team that loses goes back to the mine," he joked yesterday in a visit to the hospital where the men are recovering.

Mr Pinera may regret that wager. Several of the miners are avid soccer players, including former professional Franklin Lobos, who was juggling a ball with his feet within seconds of emerging from the mine.

The rescue operation captured the world's attention as each miner was hoisted up one-by-one through 625m of rock after 69 days trapped.

Mr Pinera played a similar friendly football match against a team led by Bolivian President Evo Morales in March.

Football was an important point of unity and distraction for the trapped miners. They set up a small projector in their refuge to watch videos of football greats Maradona and Pele and followed a live feed of the Chilean national team's game through a bore hole to the surface.

Irish Independent

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