Football Rebels

Caszely and the demise of Allende

The Chilean footballer paid the price for openly defying General Pinochet’s dictatorship.

In 1973, General Augusto Pinochet took control of Chile in a bloody coup that toppled the elected government of Salvador Allende.

When the ball rolls wide off the post, you can cry about that. But when you lose your freedom, do you cry … or fight?

by -Eric Cantona, former Manchester United star

It was the start of a repressive 17-year rule, which was characterised by systematic suppression and control in all areas of society – even in sport.

But many resisted, including footballer Carlos Caszely, who paid a high price for saying ‘no’ to dictatorship.

Caszely’s mother was eventually arrested and tortured for her son’s political views. He says: “I think they were making me pay for it. Pay for it with what was dearest to me – my mother … Just because I said no to dictatorship … I said no to dictatorship on every level: no to dictatorship, no to torture …. So they made me pay for that with what they did to my mother.”

Then in 1973, his public support for murdered president Salvador Allende led to his persecution by General Pinochet’s regime. 

Follow the story of football rebel Carlos Caszely, as he returns to the stadium which served as a concentration camp during the military coup – and ultimately gave light to Chile’s most famous words: “Nunca mas… Never again”.

About the series:

As the global sporting world faces one corruption scandal after another, former Manchester United star Eric Cantona presents the stories of five football heroes whose social conscience led them to challenge unjust regimes, join opposition movements and lead the fight for democracy and human rights. Football Rebels  looks at a side of football that does not always make the headlines.