News Around the Republic of Mexico | February 2008
|Soccer and Football in the News in Mexico|
Allan Wall - PVNN
The Mexican national soccer team (known as el Tri because its uniform includes the three colors of the Mexican flag) recently traveled to Houston, Texas. There, in Reliant Stadium, el Tri encountered the U.S. national soccer team in a friendly match officiated by head referee Carlos Batres, of Guatemala. The teams tied 2-2.
Mexico's coach Hugo Sanchez, put a positive spin on the tie, giving credit where credit was due. Sanchez recognized that the quality of U.S. soccer has improved over the years, and said of the U.S. team, "We played against a great rival and now we what we have to do is analyze what happened and see the things that we will have to do to improve, in facing the future."
Referring to the members of el Tri, Sanchez said that "All the players made a great effort and I'm content with how they performed on the field. With that attitude and spirit of work I'm sure that we are going to keep improving."
After the game, the Mexican media interviewed Landon Donovan, U.S. national team star (and all-time high scorer), who is also David Beckham's teammate on the MLS (Major League Soccer) team, the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Known in the Mexican media as the Verdugo (executioner), Donovan assured them "I really believe I'm a nice guy" and "Mexico respects us, unlike before." Donovan was asked if he would be willing to play for a Mexican professional soccer team, to which he replied, "Ask my wife."
This was the 53rd encounter between the U.S. and Mexican national soccer teams. Their first match was way back in 1934, in Rome, Italy, and the U.S. won. However, Mexico leads in the entire series, with 29 triumphs, 15 losses and 9 draws.
When the series is broken down into its respective venues, it displays definite home field advantages in both countries.
In U.S. vs. Mexico games played in the U.S., the U.S. team leads with 12 wins, 6 losses, and 8 ties. Mexico's last victory in U.S. territory was in San Diego, California in 1999.
After that, the team has lost every match played in the U.S., and previous to this latest game, the Mexican team was shut out in every match but one.
In Mexico it's a whole different ball game. On Mexican soil, the U.S. soccer team has never defeated el Tri. Mexico has beaten the U.S. 22 times in Mexico, and the two teams have tied only once south of the border.
The two teams have faced each other four times in other locations outside Mexico and the U.S. There was the aforementioned game in Rome, and later matches in Havana, in Uruguay, and Seoul, South Korea.
Soccer has been gaining in popularity in the U.S. in recent years, but has failed to inspire as much interest among the fans as do football, baseball and basketball.
And of course, the interest in soccer among the general American populace doesn't even begin to approach the sport's excitement generated among the Mexican population, which follows both the national team and local teams in the Mexican League. In Spanish, appropriately enough, the word for "fan" is the same word as "fanatic"!
Three days prior to the latest U.S. - Mexico soccer match, another game (of a sport related to soccer but not identical) was played which attracted the attention of many Mexican sports fans.
I refer to the NFL (National Football League) Super Bowl, played in Phoenix on February 3rd. That was a great game, in which the New York Giants eked out a win over the New England Patriots. It was viewed by many Mexican fans of the sport we call "football" but they refer to as fútbol americano (American football).
Mexican television regularly broadcasts NFL games, and has some good commentators. NFL teams have some diehard Mexican fans who follow the sport closely.
Football has been played in Mexican schools and universities since the 1920s. I've attended games here, and it's the same sport as played north of the border!
There is a Mexican college league known as ONEFA (Organización Nacional Estudiantil de Fútbol Americano) which holds national championships, the last four having been won by the Borregos Salvajes (Wild Rams) of the Monterrey campus of the Tecnológico de Monterrey.
In varying degrees then, both sports, fútbol (soccer) and fútbol americano, have their fans and players in Mexico.
Allan Wall is an American citizen who has been teaching English in Mexico since 1991, and writing articles about various aspects of Mexico and Mexican society for the past decade. Some of these articles are about Mexico's political scene, history and culture, tourism, and Mexican emigration as viewed from south of the border, which you can read on his website at AllanWall.net.
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