You don’t need to understand Spanish to be stirred by the breathtaking ad released in Chile ahead of the World Cup.
You also don’t need to be a devotee of soccer to watch this one-minute, 14-second masterpiece and suddenly feel a burning love for the game.
The ad features the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days in 2010 and emerged triumphantly, beating all odds and defying death. Though the Chilean national footballers’ task is far less treacherous, the team faces a massive challenge in group B of the World Cup: They play 2010 finalists Spain and the Netherlands — the “Group of Death.”
In the ad, funded by the Bank of Chile, “the men return to the mouth of the mine that nearly became their rocky grave,” writes the Associated Press. “There, miner Mario Sepulveda gives a moving speech telling Chile’s team to courageously fight against all odds, remembering how the miners overcame death itself.”
“We were trapped in this place for 70 days; the earth had swallowed us, and it was here that we had to find out what we were made of,” The Guardian translates Sepulveda’s words. “We knew that outside there were millions of Chileans who believed in us — and this earth witnessed it all.”
Then the miners each reach down and scoop up a handful of Atacama sand, which they seal inside metal flasks to send as inspiration to the Chilean team in Brazil.
“We are not scared of the Group of Death!” Sepulveda bellows, according to The Washington Post translation. “We don’t care about death.”
The comrades break into a rousing chant of “Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!” — the same chorus heard when they rose from the earth in 2010, with their countrymen and much of the world watching.
Despite the spirit of the ad, the Chilean miners did not fare well after their subterranean ordeal, the Post’s Ishaan Tharoor writes:
“Some struggled with unemployment and depression. When Sepulveda learned last year that authorities would not be prosecuting the mine’s former owners, he told reporters, ‘Today, I want to dig a deep hole and bury myself again. Only this time, I don’t want anybody to find me.’ ”
But the ad is a winner. “Chills on chills on chills,” says SBNation.
“Chile is destroying the rest of the world in the World Cup advertising game,” says Yahoo Sports.
In the end, it may even galvanize the Chilean team to rise above its long-shot odds of 40-1 against winning the tournament.