Soccer is inarguably the most popular sport on the planet, bolstered by a cultural monopoly in much of Europe, South America, and certainly Mexico.
The United States is no slouch either, but the U.S. soccer fandom has really only begun holding its own in the last few decades, whereas club teams in other locales have existed for well over a century. Now, as the World Cup qualifying matches are beginning around the globe, old rivalries are flaring with a new focus, particularly when it comes to the United States and Mexico, normally tolerant neighbors to one another with only one real bone of contention.
In the age of Trump, however, that singular conflict has turned many of our southern neighbors hateful toward the U.S., and they’re using today’s soccer match as a proxy for their anger.
“’President Trump has offended us, he is threatening us with his wall,’ said Mario López, 38, who was selling sports clothes from a stand in a crowded market in Mexico City.
“‘If Mexico beats the United States,’ he said, ‘Mexicans will celebrate like never before.’
“’President Trump has fomented hatred against Mexicans,’ said Federico Gonzales, a 50-year-old doctor on Mexico City’s south side.
“The teams will be playing at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, feared for its 7,200-feet altitude, choking smog and rowdy crowds. Mexican fans have been known to throw beer bottles, trash and even bags of urine at opposing teams. In the past they’ve hung effigies of rival players from the rafters.
“Perhaps because of their reputation, some soccer fans said they were determined to be respectful.”
As with any and all things Trump, the U.S. President has found a way for his reign to transcend mere politics and permeate nearly all facets of life; sport now included.
This exaggerated hatred for the President mimics much of what the left has been working to achieve in recent months, but on a global scale: The total and unequivocal resistance to Donald Trump in any and all iterations, no matter what, for any reason. Using a soccer match as a proxy for diplomatic worry is hardly a new concept, but given the intense anger of both the Mexican anti-Trump crowd and the American liberals, Sunday’s match will be rife with tension and drama that the players themselves may be completely unaware of.