World Cup 2014: Colombian President Declares Public Holiday for Brazil Match

AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan, File
Colombian soccer player James Rodriguez.

President Juan Manuel Santos decreed Friday afternoon as a "civic day," freeing all public employees to watch the Colombia vs. Brazil quarterfinals match.

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced today in Cartagena that there will be a half-day holiday on Friday to free public employees so they can watch the quarterfinal’s match against Brazil.

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"I want to announce all public officials that we have decreed a half holiday on Friday, so everyone can watch the match," said the Colombian president, who also announced he would be traveling to Fortaleza on Friday morning to attend the World Cup and "come back on the same day, after we win," he predicted.

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Colombia made history on Monday when it qualified for the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time after beating Uruguay for 2-0 at the Maracana stadium. Santos praised the victory through social networks, posting a photo of himself and his wife wearing the team’s tee-shirt and celebrating one of the goals, with a caption that read: "We’re in the quarters!!! Congratulations to my team!!! Congratulations Colombia!!! So proud!!!"

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All public employees will be allowed to leave their workplaces starting on 1 p.m. local time, an initiative that had already been taken yesterday in the state of Cali, after the hashtag #CivicFriday became a local trend on Twitter, with people demanding that the government make this decision.

The move is also aiming to prevent mass celebrations that could lead to riots, since the celebrations for Colombia’s first World Cup win against Greece on June 14th resulted in at least 10 people dead and triggered government reactions across the country, ranging from curfews for minors to alcohol prohibition.

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"The civic day starts at 1 p.m. and I tell you already you need to celebrate calmly and in peace," said Santos.