Last Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians stopped working at 2PM.
Maybe you are wondering why? The reason is simple: the match between France and Ecuador for the World Cup was scheduled at 3PM (Ecuadorian local hour). The Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, allowed people working in public entities to have this half-day off and left private companies the option open for their labor force to stop their activities for the rest of the day. I couldn’t believe when I heard that some people didn’t go to their professional appointments because Ecuador was playing!
We can assume that, from June 12th to July 13th, people in Ecuador are living through their team’s matches and the World Cup.
In Ecuador, the FIFA World Cup is considered as a huge event and this one was the third one in which Ecuador participated. Football is more than a sport; it’s a way of life. After watching their own League, the Ecuadorians follow as well the Mexican League, Premiere League from England, and La Liga from Spain among others.
As a French intern writing articles in Ecuador, I had to see this match surrounded by Ecuadorian football fans. And I did it … I went to La Mariscal, area known as the most festive place in Quito. At this point, people were there to watch the game with their family, friends or even colleagues. The whole Plaza Foch was crowded and all TV sets connected on the same channel.
Ecuadorian shirts sold in shops and that people bought were yellow or blue. I also bought a shirt but mine was different, it wasn’t only yellow or blue. Mine was split, a half was yellow with the Ecuadorian flag on and the other half was blue with the French flag on.
More than wearing a shirt, you also could have painted on your face the Ecuadorian flag for only 50 cents. After raising Ecuadorian colors, people were ready to sing and dance for their national team. With whistles, guitars, drums … we had an overexcited atmosphere. All along the match, people were laughing and screaming “SI SE PUEDE”, cheering at their team. Some of them were even praying.
Maybe as the only French person there, I felt really alone with almost heart attacks each time the Ecuadorian team was close to score or when the goal keeper stopped French shots. Friends told me to go to “Allianza Francesa” to feel the French craze, but I wouldn’t have been able to see Ecuadorians living this experience!
The match was tough for both teams, especially for the Ecuadorian, which had one of its best players, Antonio Valencia getting a red card from the referee at the beginning of the second half. At the end, no team scored.
After the game, I heard different feedbacks. Some people were proud of their team which tied 0-0 with France. Others were disappointed because Ecuador wasn’t selected for the next step, and worse … out of the World Cup. In my case, I had mixed feelings. I was glad because no matter the result, France was selected to the 1/8 finals but sad for all the Ecuadorians who followed their team with such loyalty.
Despite being out of the competition, Ecuadorian people will keep continuing watching games and supporting all South-American teams until the ultimate match because football makes an interesting topic for conversation with friends.