Memo From Mexico | Mexicans Chant, Americans (Mostly) Cower

"Osama! Osama!"

That's what Mexican soccer fans chanted in unison at the American squad that had just lost 4-0 to Team Mexico in an Olympic Qualification Soccer Match in Guadalajara on February 10. [VDARE.COM NOTE: This was the second such incident in the soccer series.]

The game had begun with Mexican fans nearly drowning out the U.S. national anthem with their booing.

Is this just another example of soccer fans behaving badly, or is there something deeper at work here?

I certainly don't begrudge the Mexicans their victory. I wish them well in the Olympics.

Nor do I really expect soccer fans to display good manners or sportsmanship—that's not what soccer fans are famous for.

Nevertheless, it appears in recent years that crude anti-Americanism by Mexican fans in soccer matches with the U.S. is becoming a tradition. It was present in 2002, when the U.S. team beat Mexico in a World Cup qualification match, and back in 1998 there was an infamous outburst of anti-American heckling at a game in Los Angeles—much of it perpetrated by Mexicans resident in the U.S.

The phenomenon is a combination of several factors. First you have the generic bad behavior typical of many soccer fans. That is compounded by the fact that far too many Mexicans take soccer far too seriously. They resent the growing success of the U.S. team, which seems to have become Mexico's principal soccer nemesis. Mix that in with a certain knee-jerk anti-Americanism existing in Mexico, and a soccer match is just the place for it to erupt.

Certainly all Mexicans don't approve of what happened in Guadalajara. On a message board sponsored by Televisa several posters expressed disapproval of the Osama chant.

But another poster wrote from California, and while not mentioning the bad sportsmanship, did put an interesting spin on the victory. Enrique González [email him]:

"I send greetings to all Mexicans from San Jose, California. If this victory is important for you (in Mexico) let me assure you that all of us (Mexicans) on this side (of the border) enjoyed it as if we had won a championship. For us it means our pride and our honor because lately the U.S. has won the majority of the games, so this victory is a great joy."

Even if we can write off what happened at Guadalajara as just soccer fans behaving badly, consider this: No prominent Mexican in either the athletic or political sphere criticized it.

Just imagine if a similar incident had taken place in the United States, with Mexican athletes at the receiving end of such treatment.

One prominent American did speak up—Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo. He called the Mexican fans' behavior "indefensible" and "inexcusable," and even called for a formal apology from the Mexican ambassador.

Tancredo put the incident in perspective: "What would happen if any other nation had chanted 'Hitler!' after defeating an Israeli team?" Tancredo asked. "It's completely indefensible. Athletes can certainly expect to receive some level of heckling as a natural and healthy part of international sporting events—particularly in the context of soccer matches. But this blatant disrespect for our athletes and our country far exceeds the limits of what is acceptable in the course of friendly competition. It is, simply put, inexcusable." [Tancredo Demands Apology from Mexican Ambassador, Doug Patton, Talon News February 16th, 2004]

Tancredo hit the nail on the head when he said: "I am concerned about the behavior of the Mexican spectators and their government's non-reaction to it."

Precisely. You can't blame the Mexican government, and certainly not all Mexicans, for the bad behavior of soccer fans.

But you can question why a government seeking a new relationship with the United States would keep mum about it.

After all, the Mexican government wants the United States to open its border to millions of illegal aliens, legalize them, pay their expenses and be very careful not to hurt their feelings.

And yet, nobody in the Mexican government has the courtesy to issue even a brief statement expressing displeasure with public anti-Americanism at a sporting event.

Nor, of course, has the Bush Administration had the stomach to raise the issue.

Anyone see a pattern here?

American citizen Allan Wall lives and works legally in Mexico, where he holds an FM-2 residency and work permit, but serves six weeks a year with the Texas Army National Guard, in a unit composed almost entirely of Americans of Mexican ancestry. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here; his website is here. Readers can contact Allan Wall at allan39@prodigy.net.mx.