The beauty in soccer sometimes lies in the sport's ability to peacefully vent international political angst. Rivalries tend to sprout not from cursed trades or regional competition, but from war crimes and botched policy. England/Argentina has the Falklands, for example. While the speculation leading up to yesterday's World Cup qualifying match between the U.S. and Mexico focused on the game's outcome, writers both inside and outside the sporting world today focused on the bigger picture. What does Mexico's victory mean for its relations with the U.S.?
- More Than a Game Tapping into the idea that soccer dominance
is all Mexico's got over America, Andres Martinez
at the Los Angeles Times predicted that a loss yesterday would have
devastated the country, and further widened the gap in the two
countries' relations. He also wondered "if Washington's efforts to enact
immigration reform a few years back might have succeeded if God hadn't
invented soccer. The heated soccer rivalry between neighbors is the
gift that keeps on giving for anti-immigration crusaders."
- Mexican Vindication As the Christian Science Monitor
pointed out, Mexico's win "was
more than just a step closer to the finals next year. The 2-1 defeat
saved face...vindicating Mexico from a list of
grievances brought on by its dominating northerly neighbor." And The New York Times
captured Mexico's exuberance after their
second goal as this: "For a moment, Mexico could forget about its
ailing economy, swine flu
epidemic and barbarous drug wars. The archrival Americans had been
- U.S. Role in Soccer Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl added that the game has bigger meaning for
the U.S., not politically, but in terms of its role in the soccer world.
The defeat, he said, is "a sign that while these Americans are
improving on the world stage,
they're still not yet at a level where they have the poise and maturity
required to slam the door on a quality opponent once it's down."
- Where's the Patriotism? Meanwhile The Crossed Pond
addressed a deeper issue after watching U.S. troops overseas rooting for Mexico, via a Telemundo webcast. "I was
bothered, as American soccer fans tend to be, by the idea of U.S.
citizens rooting openly for the failure of their national team," the blogger said. "It
seemed to me, however, that serving as active duty military in a combat
zone tends to trump support for a soccer team as an indicator of
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