A large crowd of friends and relatives waited outside the National Stadium in Santiago, Chile, on Wednesday evening (31 October), for the release of detainees held since the military coup in September.
A large crowd of friends and relatives waited outside the National Stadium in Santiago, Chile, on Wednesday evening (31 October), for the release of detainees held since the military coup in September. Some estimates put the crowd at about four thousand people.
At that time there were still sixteen hundred people held in the Stadium, and unofficial reports had led people outside to believe that nearly all of them would be released with the exception of those implicated in "political crimes". As it turned out, only 112 were allowed to leave at 8.30 in the evening. Twelve of them were women.
Those detainees who had not been interrogated, were transferred to specially guarded buildings around the capital. The Chilean authorities were anxious to clear the stadium, because the World Cup qualifying match between Chile and the Soviet Union is due to be played there on 21 November. By the end of the week all the detainees had been removed from the Stadium, and FIFA officials reported that the ground was fit for an international match.
But on Friday night (2 November) the Soviet Union announced that it would refuse to play the match in Santiago. The statement asked FIFA to set another venue for the game outside Chile. It said the Stadium in Santiago had been "turned into a concentration camp, an arena of torture and execution for Chilean patriots". Soviet sportsmen, said the statement, for moral reasons, could not play in a stadium stained with the blood of Chilean patriots.