Football in Antarctica: How is it played on the coldest continent?
Playing a game in very low temperatures is not surprising. In many cities in Europe, the northern United States, and Canada, it is common to play while it is snowing. For many players, especially those who live in countries with hot climates, the cold is a great enemy. For example, in February 2022, the coldest match in the history of the Qualifiers in the American continent and, perhaps, in world football, was played in the city of Minnesota. It was a 3-0 victory for the United States and some Honduran players suffered symptoms of hypothermia. The temperature was -19°C (-2.2°F). However, the game was played on grass, without snow, as the stadium heating helped alleviate the cold.
Although playing in these conditions seems crazy, there is a place on the planet, where the cold is even worse. And that place is Antarctica, where average annual temperatures are -48°. Oddly enough, football is also played here. Although not professionally and the players are actually scientists or military. The cold causes the muscles to contract and the risk of injury increases. Therefore, it is necessary to control the different aspects to avoid it.
How is it possible to play on this continent?
Several factors must be taken into account. First, you have to prepare the field. Since there is no grass, it must be played on snow or ice. Before the match, a group of people must use certain tools to level the field, cover holes and thus avoid injuries between players. They then used ropes to delineate the size of the court, pieces of wood tied with wire to the goal, and a makeshift net. Obviously, it is impossible to use football boots and for this reason, boots with nails were used so as not to slip on the snow. To play, a completely normal ball is used. With regard to clothing, all the players use gloves, thermal clothing, hats for the head and lose clothing. The matches are played in the Antarctic Summer when there are no snowstorms and the cold is less (-22°C or -7.6°F ).
The last game on this continent was played in 2015 and is considered the southernmost football game in history. The game was played at Glaciar Unión, located just 1,000 kilometers from the South Pole. The teams were made up of Chilean soldiers and scientists on the one hand and employees of an Antarctic tourism camp on the other, who arrived at the Chilean base in a caterpillar truck. Since there was no coin to decide who started the game, the captains did so by playing rock, paper, and scissors. It was the second time that this match was held between these 2 teams. The previous time, it was won by the international team. Forty minutes of the match this time allowed Chile to stay with the victory after winning the match 2-1. Afterward, the winning team received the trophy, a modest and simple piece of wire modeled on wood.
That same year, former English football player David Beckham traveled to Antarctica to play a football game, as part of the filming of a documentary to raise awareness and funds for Unicef.
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