When the U.S. v. Mexico CONCACAF Gold Cup final match was played this past weekend, by all accounts, the Mexico men's team counted on an electrifying and rallying home crowd. Among the 93,420 visitors, there were an estimated 80,000 Mexico fans. Feeling misty-eyed for L.A. (and finally deciding to cheer on Mexico after all the Central American teams were beat) I looked up photos, reports and monitored Twitter to capture the excitement and comments from fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.
The reactions to the game varied from angst and anti-Mexican sentiment to full on hate and demonization on full display across forums, in the press and publicly via Twitter. Alongside the praise for Mexican National players Chicharito, Barrera and Dos Santos and questions as to whether Bob Bradley should continue as the U.S. team's Coach, there was a lot of hating going on unrelated to how the game was played, but very in tune with our racially charged immigration debate.
Publicly sorting out his feelings about the crowd that booed the U.S. team, LA Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke wrote:
But eventually, the rules for their unrequited love get tricky. Because eventually, Mexico ends up playing the U.S. team on U.S. soil. And then folks start wondering, as they surely did Saturday, is it really right for folks who live here to boo and jeer as if they don't?
People understand when French folks cheer on France in the World Cup in cafes in West L.A., but now they want to hate. Maybe it was the sheer number of Mexico fans that set people off. But then again, tickets for the match went on sale to everyone, not just Mexico fans.
Plaschke asks, "How many places are so diverse that it could fill football stadiums with folks whose roots are somewhere else?"
Somewhere else like LA? The city was founded in 1781 as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula. The original forty-four pobladores were comprised of twenty-two adults and twenty-two children; of this number, twenty six were Afro-Mexicans. People have migrated for good and seasonally from Mexico to work in Southern California for over 200 years. LA has always been very Mexican and it continues to be, with Mexican Americans, Chicanos, indigenous people and diverse groups of people that have roots in Mexico but have called LA home of late , or for generations.
Plaschke goes on to say:" I was felt as if I was in a strange place, and yet I felt right at home."
Why did it feel like a strange place being in LA amongst cheering Mexican people? Looking for reactions this I found comments under Plaschke's column, and in the Twittersphere littered with the i-word.