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February 11, 2009

“Qué ha hecho el futbol por ustedes últimamente?”

I have a good friend from graduate school, who I admire 'cause he is one of those few people I know, that is so fortunate to do what he likes for living working for an NGO in Mexico. (Is that a right assessment Pete?)

However, it's so interesting right after this soccer game, unfortunately I didn’t watch, to see his post show up on his Facebook status, and I quote: "Puts it better, what has ur futbol done for you lately?" I think he should’ve put it better in Spanish since he lives in Mexico so people there can understand his perspective. I’m not saying they don’t speak English, but saying it in Spanish would resonate better with them: “Qué ha hecho el futbol por ustedes últimamente?” would’ve been a better post. I believe I do understand Pete’s perspective when he asks this.

I like both countries dearly and I'm sure he does too, since he lives there. I've traveled extensively in both countries, and I feel I know Mexico as well as I do the U.S. I have no formal ties to Mexico only those beautiful relationships I've developed with friends over the years. Having traveled so much through Latin America, I totally understand the passion that Futbol brings out in people there and all over the region. It's so symbolic, like a jewel of pride if your country beats any other country in region, and especially the U.S. So one can add salt to the wound or something like that… but I’m telling you: It feels good to many, when the U.S. loses in soccer to any country in the region.

So this comment makes me ponder (And I'm sure to many Latino/as living in the U.S. too of Mexican origin) who have lived long enough in the U.S. to see both sides of the coin—what does this futbol rivalry symbolically really means to both people? If it means anything at all to the ‘Gringos,’ since they don’t really follow futbol as much as the Mexicans do. What a simple game really means in the minds of people here and there? Whether Mexico or the U.S. wins? Does winning or losing in soccer add or take away to a long lasting history between its people?

I wish that if the people of the U.S. had the same passion over futbol as Mexican people do, they would extrapolate such sentiment and show it but in a positive way on other issues toward the Mexican people. To be able to see each other eye to eye on certain issues that are more important than futbol. I’m not saying that both nations do not see eye to eye on many issues at the intergovernmental level. But I feel that this old 20th century rivalry mentality is old and inapplicable to today’s reality. This rivalry symbolically expressed through futbol especially of the Mexican people is no longer relevant. (I think it only applies to the Mexican side in this context).

We’re so integrated today by culture, business, and technology that this old rivalry mentality doesn’t apply anymore, whether in futbol or other issues. How great could we both be, if our futbol was not just another game of rivalry, but rather a game of comradeship to bring our people closer on those issues we do not see eye to eye. I don’t know if I’m just missing totally the point here (And you can tell me if I am on my blog) but I still can’t help react to Pete’s comment on whether behind this reaction still lies a 20th century mentality? And it’s not just, who wins the soccer game… but in reality on many other issues.

So to echo my good friend Pete’s sentiment, I take the liberty to translate his comment, “Qué ha hecho el futbol por ustedes últimamente?” and better ask this question in a different way, "What have you done for your Mexican neighbor lately?" to people in this country.

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