Chileans hail Vidal as the new king of Spain

FORTALEZA Brazil (Reuters) - Chileans crowned their midfielder Arturo Vidal as the new king of Spain on Thursday and hailed their victory over the holders as a portent of even greater things to come at the World Cup.

Chile's Arturo Vidal celebrates at the end of the team's 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match against Spain at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro June 18, 2014. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

“Pure Chile” crowed the headline in Las Ultimas Noticias following Chile’s 2-0 defeat of the Spain, their first victory over the old colonial power in 64 years of trying.

Those opening two words of the national anthem were also given a rousing rendition by 30,000 red-shirted Chilean fans in the Maracana before Wednesday’s match.

“The game of our lives” ran a headline on one of 34 inside pages dedicated to coverage of the match.

“Chile, bigger than the Maracana,” proclaimed El Mercurio newspaper over a photograph of Jorge Sampaoli’s players celebrating inside the famous ground in Rio de Janeiro.

Chilean twitter feeds were abuzz with jokes and memes at the expense of the Spaniards.

One showed a photograph of Vidal, with his Mohican haircut and tattoos, kitted out as the Spanish king with a uniform and sash.

Vidal is known in Chile as El Rey Arturo (King Arthur) and his side’s victory came on the day Spain’s real king, Juan Carlos, abdicated.

“The new king of Spain” ran a caption under the picture of Vidal.


Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet was photographed giving the thumbs up, a red and blue Chilean scarf around her neck.

“I’m not even going to tell you how she celebrated the goals,” her spokesman Alvaro Elizalde said.

“I’m 44 years old and I’ve never before seen Chile reach the second round of the World Cup after just two matches.”

Many Chileans looked ahead to Monday’s final Group B match against the Netherlands in Sao Paulo.

Most are assuming their team will need a win to avoid a second-round encounter with Brazil, who knocked Chile out of the World Cup in France in 1998 and in South Africa four years ago.

However, the way the Chile played against Spain is inspiring confidence.

“The team that filled the Maracana with football yesterday knows no bounds,” one newspaper commentator wrote. “Not even Brazil can fill them with fear.”

Reporting by Gideon Long; Editing by Ken Ferris