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Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 15:42 UK

Easter Island has football debut

By Gideon Long
BBC News, Santiago, Chile

Football match on Easter Island, 5 Aug
The famous stone statues of Easter Island could be seen from the pitch

Easter Island, the tiny South Pacific territory administered by Chile, has staged its first ever officially sanctioned football match.

The islanders played their first competitive fixture in the Chilean Cup.

The game ended in a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Colo Colo, the 28-time national champions dubbed the Manchester United of Chilean football.

Fifa - the sport's governing body - had described the clash as the island's "match of the century".

It had always promised to be a tough challenge, and sure enough, Colo Colo won with two goals in each half.

Party atmosphere

But this was about more than just football. There was a carnival atmosphere throughout.

The game was played on an atrocious, bumpy pitch just yards from the beach.

Easter Island players perform the "Hoko" war dance on Easter Island
A war dance failed to throw Chilean champions Colo Colo off their game

A blustery wind blowing in from the Pacific Ocean made conditions tricky for both sides.

Virtually the entire population of 4,000 islanders turned out to watch.

Many wore traditional Polynesian dress and face paint, and held aloft the island's distinctive red and white flag.

The match was broadcast live on Chilean TV to viewers over 3,700 km (2,300 miles) away on the mainland.

Before kick-off, the Easter islanders staged a war dance - a native show of bravado designed to intimidate their opponents.

But if Colo Colo were frightened, they did not show it, and it was they who went through to the second round of the Chilean Cup.

For the players of Easter Island - which is famous for its mysterious stone statues - the cup run is over, at least for another year.



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