by Fernando Elizondo
When I first was asked to write a collaboration about my country and the World Cup, I had to give it some thought given the fact I have never been a sports kind of guy or been into soccer at all. On second thought, I figured it wouldn’t be so hard to write about Mexico and the World Cup given the huge role that soccer plays in Mexican society.
For almost every Mexican, soccer is something they grow up with. Support for local teams is something that can bring people together or literally tear families apart. Soccer generates such strong emotions in Mexicans that when transferred to a bigger context such as the World Cup it become a social and cultural force that must be reckoned with. It has always amazed me how soccer can bring the most manly machos to tears when their teams lose, when a death in the family might not.
For me, this World Cup has been particularly special for it is the first time I have ever gotten involved with soccer and been able to witness the actual power it has over our country. These are very hard times our country is living in, with a lot of intellectuals going as far as placing us in the verge of becoming a failed state. South Africa 2010 has provided an opportunity for the whole country to take our minds off the daily drug related violence and come together for this huge event.
This year has also been particularly important in sports. First, we had the honor if inaugurating the World Cup in a very heated game against the host country, with Bafana Bafana as strong rivals. Then, for the first time in World Cup history, Mexico was able to beat France (5 de mayo all over again!) in a match. And finally, even though we lost against Uruguay, we advanced to the knockout stage.
El Tri gave several demonstrations of greatness with some very strong plays and a couple of great goals; even though the 16-match-against-Argentina curse proved to be the end of us and our World Cup dreams, a lot Mexicans were still content with our role in the tournament.
Sadly, all that is left for us now is enjoy World Cup final and set our minds for Brazil 2014, when the time will come for Mexico to claim victory and bring the Cup home.
Fernando Elizondo is a native of Monterrey, Mexico and will attend Harvard Law School this fall.