Mexicans are a passionate people, living for today and usually giving their all. Church, Beer, Family and Football. But can you spot the odd one out?
I’m a big footy fan, and one of the things that excited me most about coming to Mexico was the opportunity to experience some Latin passion for the beautiful game. Boy have I been disappointed!! Being English, I came from a country pretty keen on it’s football, and I expected something just as special, maybe more so, from the Mexicans, but it was not to be.
My first hint that the sport isn’t really a national hobby was seeing a World Cup qualifier on the telly between Mexico and Panama. There were just a few thousand Mexicans in the Stadium, it was almost empty! I remember when there was a public outcry in England when ‘just’ 30,000 turned up on a cold, rainy night to see a poor Graham Taylor team take on a minnow in a pointless friendly.
I was told by my amigos that come World Cup, things would be different. But having been to a couple more games in person at Cruz Azul, one of the city’s big teams, and sat in a half empty stadium, I still had my doubts.
And here we are at the World Cup, and I can now confirm that football was the odd one out….Mexican passion is at it’s peak when you bring the church, beer or their families into the equation.
Sure, there is plenty of media coverage, people are talking about it alot, and the flags are out. But here’s the deal. At 2.30pm on my way home from work, the streets were full of people. Traffic was every bit as heavy as usual. Buses were playing latin music and vendors were knocking up tacos to lots of hungry passers by.
Their game with Argentina, their biggest game since 1986, and which they have sadly lost 2-1, had been going on for half an hour, and life was going on largely as normal. I will say that when I popped out in the break before extra time, the streets were emptier, but there were still quite a few people out and about.
Man, when England plays a big game in the World Cup there is NO ONE out and about! The papers regularly show photos of the busiest spots in London – absolutely empty! I remember in the last World Cup, a camera filming Trafalgar Square didn’t see a soul for ages till one old, and possibly homeless, lady wandering into view.
After games, Mexicans run around the Angel of Independence. In England they flock to Trafalgar Square. The difference? In Mexico you can see the pavement and run about. In London it would take you ten minutes to wander half a dozen metres…
I will mention though, that those who do have The Passion are very colourful and loud and friendly and travel in reasonable numbers (even if again, they would be swamped by English fans!) and put up a very good show! Just a shame the whole country doesn’t join in.