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Football – Mexican Style

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Omnilife Stadium Guadalajara

Omnilife Stadium Guadalajara

Mexico’s most popular sport is what Americans call soccer. However, to Mexicans, and many other nations it is called “football.” Since we are writing about Mexico, out of deference we shall be international and will call it “football,” as well.

Football was introduced in Mexico by Cornish miners at the end of the 19th century. Like many things Mexican soccer was an import, much like the all-popular Mexican “Banda” music which is an overlapping of Mexican music with brass band German polka music.

This is a wonderful mixing of cultures, of which many are not aware. Even Mitt Romney is descended from Mexican Mormons who fled the United States to live in Mexico.

In Mexico, football became a professional sport in 1943. The top Mexican football clubs are Chivas of Guadalajara with 11 championships, followed by América, Toluca and Cruz Azul with 10 championships each.

Mexico has produced many legendary football players. Two of them have received widespread international recognition. They are Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal who played for León and was the first player to appear in five World Cups. Also universally recognized is Hugo Sánchez who played in Europe for Real Madrid is considered one of the best players ever.

Football is big time in Mexico, which has some very large stadiums such as Estadio Azteca (Aztec Stadium) in Mexico City, which seats well over one-hundred thousand and is the home of Club América.

The August 8, 2012, Easter Sunday football game in Omnilife Stadium, Guadalajara, Mexico was a big day for nearly every of Mexican. The game between América and Chivas was a match-up which drew attention even from the non-fan.

In Mexico, even those who are not ardent football fans, take sides between being either a Chiva (goat) or an Aguila (eagle), which can be more important than identifying themselves as being for one of Mexico’s political parties, the PRI, PAN or PRD; or even being Catholic or whatever.

Chiva refers to the “Chivas del Guadalajara” or fans of the Guadalajara team—a group which represents “the people,” the poor, the oppressed; as Guadalajara is formed ONLY by Mexicans.

It makes no difference that Guadalahara’s owner it’s one of the richest Mexican—movie producer and entrepreneur, Jorge Vergara. Vergara (no relation to Sofia Vergara, a Columbian) is a man of the people who rose from selling tacos on the streets of Guadalajara to making a fortune selling Herbalife products in Mexico.

On the other hand, the “Aguilas del América” represent the powerful, and the rich. The team even includes non-Mexicans in their lineup.

América is owned by Emilio Azcarraga III, a Forbes billionaire, and the owner of Mexico’s main television network, Televisa.

Every time these two teams play against each other, the streets are deserted, the sports bars are crowded, and entire families enjoy a carne asada with beer at home watching the game on television.

There are only two of these games each year, called “El Clasico.” The lowest-paid workers and employees from every economic level look forward to these Clasicos impatiently for an opportunity to show their allegiance.

The game on Sunday was the first “El Clasico” of 2012.

It was a thrilling game, worthy of their supporters’ rivalry.

América had the better of the first half, but both teams had goals disallowed under suspicious circumstances.

América came out after halftime aggressively pushing for an opening goal, but didn’t create many chances with the game being played out mainly at midfield.

With unbearable tension mounting for the supporters of both sides, América’s Paul Aguilar finally scored in the 85th minute, with an assist from 20-year-old rising star Raul Jimenez, who had come on as a substitute just four minutes before the goal.

Like the incomparable Diego Maradona before him, super-talented Jimenez dribbled through intense and unbelievable traffic towards the Chivas goal before deftly passing off to Aguilar.

Everyone expected a cross from Aguilar, but, in a moment of absolute and incredible genius, Aguilar opted to shoot. In a split second, he noticed that Chivas goalie’s line of sight was blocked by two defenders. Unbelievable!

Miraculously Aguilar’s shot, unseen by the goalie, passed through two Chivas defenders, slamming into the back of the net for the winning goal.


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