Colombia’s President Santos declares holiday so citizens can watch the World Cup


(Clive Rose/Getty Images)

South Americans do not mess around when it comes to soccer, er, futbol. The beautiful game is so important to society there that it’s practically a basic right to be able to tune in for important games. Which might be why Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos officially declared Friday afternoon starting at 1 p.m. a civic holiday, RCN Radio reports.

He urged citizens to use the time “to enjoy and support the [Colombian] team from their homes or places where they want to watch the game.” However, in order for all citizens, and not just federal employees, to get the time off, the president is depending on each city’s mayor to make his or her own decree. Even then, though, private companies do not have to comply. But hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?

But the declaration is most likely more than just about fun. The call for a holiday might also be rooted in safety concerns. The Hollywood Reporter writes:

“The move is … aiming to prevent mass celebrations that could lead to riots since the celebrations for Colombia’s first World Cup win over Greece on June 14 resulted in at least 10 people dead and triggered government reactions across the country, ranging from curfews for minors to alcohol prohibition.”

As for Santos, he doesn’t plan to be in Colombia for the game. He said instead that he would be flying to Fortaleza on Friday morning to attend the match between Colombia and Brazil and would “come back on the same day, after we win.” He did not say what his return plans would be if Brazil wins…

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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Marissa Payne | July 3