- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2002

MEXICO CITY (AP) For soccer-mad Mexicans, it was bad enough that their team was eliminated from the World Cup. More heartbreaking was the fact that the blow was delivered by the United States, which some Mexicans see as a meddlesome neighbor.

"It hurts us here," said Jose Luis Luviano, 21, punching his chest. Tears melted the Mexican flags painted on his cheeks.

Millions of Mexicans, including President Vicente Fox and most of his Cabinet, watched Mexico's dreams of advancing in soccer's World Cup die yesterday in a 2-0 defeat to the United States, a nation that maddeningly enough barely seems to care about soccer.

At the Yuppie's Sports Cafe, fans stood and sang as the Mexican anthem was played. Many screamed obscenities at the "Star-Spangled Banner" signs of resentment at a wealthier, more powerful northern neighbor that Mexicans often feel treats them with disrespect.

As the game drew to an end, fans sobbed. Some hid their faces in their team jerseys.

"It hurts because it's Mexico, but it also hurts because it's the United States," Luviano said.

Fox summoned almost his entire Cabinet which he repeatedly had compared to the national soccer team to watch the game, which started at 1:30 a.m. local time.

He tried to put a positive face on the loss, telling team members in a televised conversation: "In no way do we feel defeated. We have been with you, and we will continue to be. We learn from our losses."

Mexican newspapers weren't as charitable in front-page headlines that were like a bad hangover to fans who witnessed the event live.

"The MOST BITTER defeat" wailed El Universal.

"It's Over!" cried La Jornada, which bore a full-page picture of a U.S. and Mexican player battling for the ball.

The newspaper Milenio announced that Mexicans had been "Crushed by the United States" and declared on the back page that "The Tritanic took on water, 2-0," a play on the team's nickname "Tricolor," for the three colors of the Mexican flag.

Thousands of riot police ringed the Angel of Independence monument, a half-block from the U.S. Embassy, to prevent postgame disturbances. Cars were banned in the area, and police searched for weapons or alcohol. The U.S. Embassy announced it would be closed yesterday.

But only a scattering of fans showed up at the Angel after the defeat, many of them sprawling on the asphalt in desolation. A few people trudged around the monument holding a Mexican flag.

Police detained 41 people for disturbing the peace. No one was hurt.

Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told residents to keep their chins up.

"That's the way these things go," he said. "You have to keep fighting for the goals in your daily life, for survival, for the city, for the country."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide