Sports

Mexican soccer fans boo as U.S. national anthem plays before rivalry game

By Greg Hadley

ghadley@mcclatchy.com

U.S. players enter the pitch as fans release confetti with the colors of the Mexican flag before their World Cup soccer qualifying match at Azteca Stadium between the U.S. and Mexico in Mexico City, Sunday, June 11, 2017.
U.S. players enter the pitch as fans release confetti with the colors of the Mexican flag before their World Cup soccer qualifying match at Azteca Stadium between the U.S. and Mexico in Mexico City, Sunday, June 11, 2017. AP

Fans in Azteca Stadium, Mexico City made their dislike of the U.S. well-known Sunday night, booing and jeering as the American national anthem played before the two countries faced off in a World Cup qualifying match.

The boos, audible on the Fox Sports broadcast and widely reported on social media and by ESPN, come at a time of rising tensions between the U.S. and Mexico politically, as U.S. President Donald Trump maintains that he will build a border wall between the two countries and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto recently hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a sign of solidarity against Trump, per the Associated Press.

The Washington Post reported before the game Sunday that many fans were calling Trump’s comments and attitude towards Mexicans the “salsa on the tacos” when it comes to an already intense rivalry, but seeming to imply that there would be no extra unpleasantness in Sunday’s match.

According to the Los Angeles Times, that was not the case. American players have been harassed by Mexican fans in the past, being pelted with bags of urine, but on Sunday, most American fans were cordoned off in a caged area for their own safety. While Mexican fans booed during the national anthem, they celebrated their team’s only goal of the night by hurling slurs and flashing middle fingers towards American fans, who traded insults. According to the Times, riot police were in place from the beginning of the game to keep the two sides separated.

The Times also reports that political protests by both Americans and Mexicans took place before the game, including t-shirts, flags and even pinatas all with Trump’s likeness on them, often accompanied by profanities and middle fingers.

On social media, the rivalry also got political at times.

Back in November, just three days after the U.S. election, the U.S. and Mexican national teams faced off in Columbus, Ohio. While there was fear at the time that feelings, still raw from Trump’s victory, would spill over into violence, there were no reported incidents. The two teams also came together to take a pre-match “unity” photo.

On Sunday, however, the game ended in a 1-1 tie, giving both teams one point in World Cup qualifying.

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