Soccer lovers unite for finals

JACK BOLAND -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

There was no off-side violence at BMO Stadium yesterday.

Toronto Police were on hand and prepared for a clash with Chilean fans after Thursday night's melee.

But other than one tense moment between bike cops and some protesters, cooler heads prevailed, leaving Chilean fans to celebrate their teams third-place win at the FIFA Under-20 tournament.

Just before the start of the championship match, boisterous Chilean fans, who'd been protesting Thursday's fracas between their nation's players and police, confronted a blue line of bicycle cops just west of the north grandstand area.

But this time there was no violence and fans turned around and went back to dancing under around a massive flag and banging their drums while shouting, "Chi-Chi-Chi-le, Chile."

"The crowd was pretty good and wanted to vent their frustrations," Insp. Bryce Evans said. "We had people coming up to us the whole time to vent over the misunderstanding."

"They were a pretty joyous after their win," Evans said Chile's 1-0 win over Austria.

Carolina Silva and her husband, Christian Miranda-Espinoza, who was dressed up as the soccer mascot for Chile Condorito, mocked police by locking themselves up with plastic handcuffs.

"We wanted to show our support today to our players," Silva said.

"And tell the police we didn't do anything wrong."

But other than a few protesters, most fans had gathered outside the stadium to celebrate.

The delirium for the South American nations continued as the Argentinian squad beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in a lively gold medal match, sending the fans around the stadium and drummers in the north grandstand into a frenzy.

Jose and Mary Magallanes, who met in Argentina and have been married 30 years, said soccer was what brought them together -- and yesterday's win was another joyous day in their life together.

The Ramirez sisters -- Florincia, 20, and Paula, 22, -- were decked out in blue and white Argentina tank tops and were bouncing with joy and waving their flag after the match.

"People here never get to see world-class soccer. It was amazing to see the passion of the fans," Florincia said.

Czech fans like Andrea Tovara, 22, who came to Canada from Prague when she was six, said she was disappointed by the loss as she hugged her boyfriend Mario DiClemente.

"It was a crazy game and our team played well so you can't be disappointed," Tovara said.

Two lucky soccer nuts, brothers Jaime and Eduardo Espinoza, got the extra perk of sharing the experience with Miss Universe Canada Inga Skaya, thanks to the free tickets they won in a Toronto Sun contest.

The brothers had already seen 12 matches before yesterday's final and were blown away by the excitement of the game.


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