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Guide to the South American Leagues - Chile

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Guide to the South American Leagues - Chile

Welcome to this new series where we’ll be looking at the different leagues in South America, our first stop is Chile.


The goal of these articles will be to showcase each of the six leagues available in Football Manager, taking a look at what makes them different, what are the stories behind it and which are the players you should be keeping an eye on. In this first part, we’ll be looking at a country by the side of the Andes, with an underappreciated footballing history and an interesting future: Chile.
 

A bit of history


Football arrived in Chile at the end of the 19th century along with British immigrants, mainly through the port of Valparaíso. In 1882, members of The Mackay School, in Cerro Alegre de Valparaíso, created Chile's first club: the Mackay and Sutherland Football Club.

On June 19, 1894, the representatives of the clubs met at the Casa de Botes de Valparaíso to form the first association of clubs in Chile, the Football Association of Chile (FAC). Six teams took part: Mackay and Sutherland, Chilian FC, National FC, Valparaíso FC, Valparaíso Wanderers and Victoria Rangers, which originated. In 1913 they joined FIFA.

In Valparaíso, the FAC started playing the Challenge Cup in 1896, the first official championship in Chile, while in the rest of the country the activity consisted of friendly matches. On May 15, 1903 the representatives of 14 clubs founded the Santiago Football Association, which started playing the Subercaseaux Cup.

In 1910, the Chilean national team was established, taking part in the first-ever Copa América in 1916 and the World Cup in 1930, and making its debut in the Olympic Games in 1928. During the 1920s, football became a social phenomenon and a popular urban sport in the country, with thousands of people flocking to makeshift stadiums, as competitions multiplied in the country and were increasingly followed by the press. It was at this time that the first icons emerged, such as Ramón Unzaga, remembered for recording the Chilena, an overhead scissor kick technique, for the first time in history in 1914.

In 1925, Colo-Colo was founded in Santiago, the first national team that implemented a professional system. On government orders, the Chilean Football Federation was established with headquarters in Santiago and was given national jurisdiction in 1926, with the FAC becoming the regional Valparaíso league. The Professional Football League, now known as ANFP, started organising the First Division in 1933. It was at this time that many foreign players and coaches arrived, most famously the Hungarian Franz Platko, who introduced tactics in 1939, increasing the level of training, skills and attracting even more fans.

The team attended the 1950 World Cup and was Copa America runner-up in 1952, 1955 and 1956. In 1954 the federation, led by Carlos Dittborn, registered their candidacy to host the 1962 World Cup; despite the challenge from other, more famous, candidates like Argentina and West Germany, Chile was elected with 32 votes out of 56 members. The 1962 World Cup was and continues to be the highest point in the history of Chilean football, with the team managing to reach the semifinals and then third place, beating Czechoslovakia, led by the left-winger Leonel Sánchez, who was also one of the top scorers of the World Cup, with four goals.

During the 1950s and 60s, strong rivalries started to develop between the three biggest sides in the country, Colo-Colo, Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica, with the Clásico Chileno being played between the first two and the Clásico Universitario disputed between the latter two.

During the 1990s, activity from the barrabravas (hooligans) expanded, but it wasn’t all bad news. The national team thrived with the Za-Sa duo made up of strikers Iván Zamorano and Marcelo Salas, and in 1991 Colo-Colo won the Copa Libertadores, the first and only Chilean side to do it.

In 2007 Chilean football experienced another revolution, with the Golden Generation, developing players like Alexis Sánchez, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Bravo, Mauricio Isla, Charles Aránguiz, and Eduardo Vargas among others, who established themselves as top performers in European football. They managed to return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years in 2010 and won the Copa Américas in 2015 and 2016.
 

Competition Format


The Chilean First and Second Division are two of South America’s simplest, most straightforward leagues; a calendar year, two-legged season. However, the format adapts as the seasons progress to make up for the pandemic.

At all times, however, clubs must play an Under 21 player during 70% of the minutes played. This means that if your team plays 90 minutes, an under 21 player must have played for at least 63 minutes. Clubs that fail to comply with this rule will be docked 6 points and fined a little under €17k.
 

Season 2021


The First Division runs from March to December, with 17 teams and 32 matches. The top two clubs qualify for the Copa Libertadores Group Stage, whilst 3rd place gets into the Second Qualifying Round. Depending on the winner of the Copa Chile, 4th place will get into the Copa Libertadores Second Qualifying Round (if the cup winner is one of the top 3 teams) or into the Copa Sudamericana First Round (Group Stage) if it’s someone else. Teams placed 5th to 7th qualify for the Copa Sudamericana First Round, whilst 8th is also tied to the winner of the Copa Chile, as they may “inherit” the spot of 4th place.

The relegation race is fairly simple, with the bottom two going straight down, whilst the team placed 15th has to play a two-legged play off against the playoff winner from the Second Division.

The Second Division runs from April to December, with 16 teams and 30 matches. The winner is promoted automatically, but teams placed 2nd to 5th have to play a two-legged playoff with semis and a final. The winner then goes on to play the promotion playoff against the 15th placed team from the First Division.

The bottom two teams are automatically relegated to the (unplayable) third division, so be careful not to land in a “game over” situation.
 

Season 2022 and Onwards


The following season, the First Division is played from February to October. This is due to the 2022 World Cup and the league will be played from February to December in the following seasons. From 2022 onwards, you’ll find 16 teams and 30 matches; the spots for qualification to continental competitions remain the same, but there are changes to the relegation rules. Starting from your second in-game season, the bottom two places will mean automatic relegation, as the playoff gets scrapped.

In turn, this means there are some changes to the way you get promoted from the Second Division. The competition remains with 16 teams and 30 matches, running from April to December; the winner gets instant promotion but there’s a new playoff system. Teams placed 2nd to 7th will enter the showdown, where every matchup is a two-legged affair. Clubs 3rd to 7th face each other in the quarterfinals, and the winners advance to the semis. Then, the winner of that matchup plays against the 2nd placed team for a spot in the top tier.
 

Copa Chile


The Copa Chile is a fairly straightforward competition, a knockout home cup in the style of the FA Cup, and its format remains unchanged throughout the game. Teams from the Second and Third division enter on the First Round, the only round that’s played as a one-leg series, with home advantage to the lower division side.

Winners qualify to the Second Round, which is where most First Division clubs enter the competition (all but the champion). From there on out, series are two-legged up until the final. The winner, as we’ve said, gets a spot in the Copa Libertadores Second Qualifying Round, provided they haven’t gotten that spot (or better) through the league.
 

Who to manage?


For a more traditional Chilean save, you can always manage one of the big three, Colo-Colo, Universidad de Chile or Universidad Católica, but being the perpetual non-conformist, let me introduce you to two new options.
 

Unión Española


FM22 Unión Española

Unión Española was founded by a group of Spaniards residing in Santiago and of Spanish descendants on May 18, 1897. In 1933 it became one of the eight founding clubs of the Professional Football League of Santiago. Over its hundred-year-old history, it became the 4th most laureate Chilean club, with seven First Division titles, two Chilean Cups, one Chilean Super Cup, and a Primera B championship. They’re also one of the only four Chilean teams that have played in a Copa Libertadores final, losing to Independiente in 1975.

Their traditional rivals are Audax Italiano and Palestino, with whom they dispute the Clásico de Colonias, as all three clubs represent numerous foreign colonies in the country (from Italy, Palestine and Spain).

They play their home matches in Estadio Santa Laura, which was originally opened in 1923. Since its remodelling in 2009 it can host nearly 20,000 spectators. Its stands are named after Honorino Landa, Chita Cruz and Atilio Cremaschi, legends of Chilean football.
 

Santiago Morning


FM22 Santiago Morning

For a bit of a harder challenge, we can take a look at one of the historic second division sides, Santiago Morning. Known as Chaguito, the demonym for the Santiago de Chile natives, they have been plying their trade in the second division since 2012.

Santiago Morning was founded in 1936 as the fusion of two clubs from the Chilean capital, Club de Deportes Santiago and Morning Star Sport Club, the latter of which had also been one of the founding members of the Professional Football League of Santiago. Their highest hour would come in 1942, as they would win the league title, led by historic centre forward Rául Toro. They also finished runners-up in 1939 and 1941.

They currently play in the Estadio Municipal de La Pintana, a 5,000-capacity stadium in the southern part of Santiago. Their traditional rivals are Deportes Magallanes, with whom they contend the Clásico Metropolitano.
 

Who to sign?


Whether you’re looking to improve your squad to challenge the big three or simply want to add some Chilean talents to your team, these are some interesting players to check in the Andean country.
 

Goalkeeper - Brayan Cortés, Colo-Colo


FM22 Brayan Cortés

Going back to front, we start with National Team regular Brayan Cortés. He may just play second fiddle to Claudio Bravo for now, but Cortés is an excellent shot stopper and one that can secure your shot-stopping duties for many seasons. Him being a Colo-Colo man makes it a bit trickier to snatch him up within Chile, and he’s on juicy wages, but if you can get him, he’ll make for a great signing.
 

Centreback - Daniel González, Santiago Wanderers


FM22 Daniel González

It may always be the strikers and creative number 10s that pick up all the praises and the prizes, but there are few signings so worthwhile in football as a dominant central defender. At just 18, González is very much looking like he could turn into one. Already an international, he’s fairly complete from a technical standpoint and already excels at reading the game. With his physical attributes set to explode in the coming seasons, he’s the leader your defence needs.
 

Defensive Midfield - Victor Méndez, Unión Española


FM22 Victor Méndez

Sitting in the middle of the park we have Victor Méndez. A very technical and complete mixed midfielder, he’s got the tools to influence both ends of the pitch. However, it’s his mentals that really catch the eye, with almost every attribute at 12 or 13. You won’t have to sign him if you start your save with Unión Española, and he’ll be your anchor in the centre, but be aware: he’ll gather some serious interest as he packs decent potential.
 

Attacking Midfield - Marco Collao, Deportes Antofagasta


FM22 Marco Collao

An ideal signing if you’re looking for some creativity, Collao can be your playmaker all along the midfield. Good technical ability and some excellent mentals should make him a good addition to any team, particularly as Antofagasta’s relatively low reputation make him relatively cheap to pry from them.

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FM Blog: Guide to the South American Leagues - Chile
Guide to the South American Leagues - Chile
Welcome to this new series where we’ll be looking at the different leagues in South America, our first stop is Chile.
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