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It is upon us again. Four long years have passed, and now the 21st World Cup, hosted in Russia, will soon be broadcast around the world in dozens of languages. Beginning June 14, we will have a month of football matches almost every day to settle once again which nation is the best footballing nation in the world. The entire planet will be gripped in a sudden and near-religious fervor. Even Pope Francis will get in on it, lending a legitimacy to my quasi-spiritual ardor, and providing perhaps even more divine aid for Argentina, as if Lionel Messi were not enough.

The French existentialist Albert Camus once wrote, “Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe to football.” This is the quote I fall back upon when I want to appear intellectual in my justification for how madly infatuated I am with football (please note: I shall refer to the sport played with one’s feet as football for the duration of this article—because it makes sense). I often feel the need to explain myself to those who wonder why the one goal produced in an otherwise uneventful 90 minutes can have me celebrating, laughing, in tears on the top of a table, arms raised, yelling: “Gooooooooooooooooooool!

The entire planet will soon be gripped in a sudden and near-religious fervor. 

If you already understand why the world goes insane for the World Cup, then no words of mine are necessary. You know that no words could explain it all anyway, its magnitude, its all-encompassing importance. But if you don’t understand, this essay is for you. This is my humble attempt to welcome newcomers into the warm embrace of the global epidemic of football. This is an attempt to explain the stakes, the history, the drama of the World Cup. The World Cup is a black hole, an eternal and incomprehensible force that draws everything toward it, that bends time itself and from which nothing can escape. If I succeed in infecting you, then perhaps you too will be found once every four years, jumping for joy, weeping in ecstasy or crushed by defeat. Join me in the madness.

The World Cup as ritual

It is hard to overstate just how much football means to people around the world. The sport has triggered violent riots and even an all-out war between Honduras and El Salvador in 1969. Many an old-world hatred has found new life through the sport, complete with corporate sponsorship. Real Madrid and FC Barcelona’s famous rivalry gives voice to longstanding regional and separatist tensions in Spain. The “Old Firm Derby” between Celtic and Rangers, both based in Glasgow, is a proxy battle for the Northern Irish Troubles, pitting the Irish, Republican and Catholic FC Celtic against the British, Unionist and Protestant FC Rangers. In Buenos Aires the “Superclasico” pits the Boca Juniors, historically associated with Argentina’s Italian working-class immigrants, against River Plate, known as the team of the affluent, their fans “the millionaires.” Rome’s “Derby della Capitale,” infamous for spectator violence, sees AS Roma face off against SS Lazio, the latter team being notorious for its fascist-leaning supporter base. Football abroad is simply weighed down by history. There are no comparably politicized rivalries in American sports, not even the Yankees versus the Red Sox.

International football simply raises the stakes of football’s identity politics to the national level. For example, the “Hand of God” goal scored by Argentine legend Diego Maradona against England in the 1986 World Cup match cannot be discussed, nor its enormous impact in both England and Argentina understood, without the context of the Falklands war. Argentines, and many others, forgave the blatant handball as an act of anticolonial defiance. And for all their greater military strength, in the end the English could only watch as Maradona scored again (with what was widely considered the best World Cup goal of the century). Argentina went on to win the game and eventually the World Cup, striking a symbolic blow against Margaret Thatcher. Is it madness that two goals in 1986 should resonate politically for decades? Yes, but that is the whole point.

International football raises the stakes of football’s identity politics to the national level.

What else can one expect from the only sport that is truly shared across the whole world? How could a competition pitting the avatars of nations against one another not be seen as a font of symbolism and greater meaning? The World Cup is a ritual World War, a cathartic ceremony of the old nationalisms made obsolete by our new globalized world. Our teams carry all our hopes, hatreds and history with them. Whether it exorcises or feeds those demons is up for intense academic debate. But what is clear is that only in our globalized world is such a ritual possible. This is tribalism brought to you by Coca Cola and Adidas.

When else will the streets of Cairo and Montevideo, Mexico City and Berlin, be silent at the exact same moment, regardless of the time zone, suffering the same anxiety, living the same thrills?

America’s Unfulfilled Potential

This is the high drama that football creates. The ritual clash illuminates society’s tensions. What must be recognized is that, unlike warfare, economics, diplomacy or even creative industries, it is a relatively egalitarian way for nations and tribes to compete with one another.

You need not go to Russia in the summer of 2018 to witness this. I think of the local migrant farmworker camps near my hometown in the agricultural heart of California’s Central Valley, which have their own little football league. The boys of the camps meet in ferocious and hard-fought clashes on fields yellowed by the harsh summer sun and Gov. Jerry Brown’s water conservation rules. Every free moment of the summer is spent outside, kicking the ball around. There are no trophies for participation here; even the pick-up games after school are played to win. And when the same 100 degree heat in which their parents pick crops finally tires the boys out, they sit in the shade and trade stories of Messi, Ronaldo and Chicharito.

Mexican-Americans breathe football in a way most other Americans, even those who play the sport, do not. I once saw the farmworker camp team play a private club team full of predominantly white, affluent, college-bound kids; the children of vegetable-buyers, not vegetable-pickers. It was donated and hand-me down cleats versus brand new ones. Nevertheless, the migrant kids overwhelmed their more affluent peers. Final score: 8-0.

There is a clue in that anecdote for why the United States, for all its status as a superpower, remains a weak presence in global football. Despite enormous pools of untapped, largely Latino immigrant football talent and passion, youth football in the United States (sorry, soccer) remains, at the competitive level, the exclusive domain of wealthy suburbanites. The U.S. youth soccer system is pay-to-play, with the best college teams recruiting from expensive club teams. Children from less affluent families get priced out and overlooked by scouts. The irony of all this is that in the United States, the world’s most diverse country, the world’s most popular sport has become an enclave of white affluence.

Mexican-Americans breathe football in a way most other Americans, even those who play the sport, do not.

At the same time, Major League Soccer, which is based in the United States, is increasingly a league worth watching, though it creates new problems for American soccer. Top-level international players like Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Spain’s David Villa and Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger are “retiring” to M.L.S. as they age out of more competitive European leagues and are lured by American cash. While this gives American fans like me the chance to watch legends in the flesh, it comes at the cost of American youth development. American demand for world-class football diverts considerable financial resources away from the development of local talent. It is no accident that the most promising contemporary American players, like Christian Pulisic, were trained in Germany.

Given all these deep-seated issues around youth development and diversity, it should not have been a surprise when the United States failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Nevertheless it was a monumental setback for a country that spent more on the sport than ever before. The U.S. national team players will have to watch from home as nations like first-timers Senegal and Panama have their shot at glory. As recently as 2014, Americans dreamed of holding their own against such titans as Brazil, Germany and Spain. It turns out the United States, despite all the money spent, could not triumph even over Trinidad and Tobago. But that is also what is fantastic about football. A nation like Trinidad and Tobago could beat a nation like the United States! In how many other competitions can that be said?

America’s football losing streak won’t be forever. My Dad has a saying: “Once the Americans get an idea into their heads, they can do anything. They can land on the moon.” The United States needs to harness the fundamental egalitarian nature of soccer. The nation of immigrants from around the world should be uniquely suited to conquer the world’s sport. But until the United States learns to find its champions among the kids of California farmworker camps as much as the kids of professionals in the suburbs, its glory days will have to wait.

Putin’s World Cup

The largest shadow over this year’s World Cup will be cast by Vladimir Putin. Given that FIFA may be the most laughably corrupt organization in the world, the Russian Federation is certainly a good fit as the 2018 host. And while I do not believe the games are rigged (there might be a worldwide riot if it were ever proven they were), it does seem awfully convenient for the hosts that Russia’s opening home game is against Saudi Arabia, one of the few teams in the tournament ranked lower than Russia. By all accounts, Vladimir Putin’s dream is to restore Russia to its former imperial glory. What better way to assert Russian influence on the world stage than by becoming the stage for the world’s most watched event?

Putin is hardly the first authoritarian leader to benefit from the World Cup. The second-ever World Cup was used by Mussolini as an advertisement for fascism all the way back in 1934. In the aftermath of an attempted assassination of a Russian defector in the United Kingdom, many European heads of state have announced they will not be attending the games. Some have called for a boycott of the World Cup in the spirit of the U.S. boycott of the 1984 Moscow Olympic Games. Still, despite being fully aware of the symbolic lift the tournament will give the Putin regime, I won’t boycott the games. I’ll watch every second of every game I can. And to be honest, I’m not sure there is anything that could change that.

Putin is hardly the first authoritarian leader to benefit from the World Cup.

At the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup, Pope Francis perfectly encapsulated all the positives of the sport, tweeting: “The World Cup allowed people from different countries and religions to come together. May sport always promote the culture of encounter.” But football brings us together and divides at the same time. The “culture of encounter” in football is not always what Pope Francis would hope for. Encounters between football fans are often marred by violence and hatred. Mass casualties have occurred in riots and stampedes in stadiums across the world, with over 70 killed in a Egyptian Football riot in 2012. The football scene in Pope Francis’ own Argentina is notoriously violent. Serious resources around the world have gone into policing the football world and attempting to make it safer and more family friendly. In Russia, normally home to a racist and homophobic hooligan scene, the formidable state security services are utilizing the full might of the Russian state to ensure no violence disrupts Putin’s showcase.

In the face of so much violence and corruption, many have blamed football itself. Yet I would argue that anything that has ever meant this much has always been accompanied by violence. The true source of this violence is the simple fact that it holds a meaning equivalent to any ideology for millions of fans around the world. Football’s power is such that appeals from the national team of Ivory Coast even helped end a vicious civil war. Perhaps the fact that a sport has been given so much meaning reflects more than anything our modern and increasingly secular world’s desperation for a sense of purpose and belonging.

Football and the Meaning of Life

For me, the World Cup provides exactly that sense of purpose and belonging. For Mexican-Americans, it is often a form of cultural survival. We feel the Mexican national team represents us; already Mexico plays more of its “home” games in the United States than in Mexico. It makes economic sense: Mexican-Americans have larger disposable incomes than Mexicans; that is why so many of us came here in the first place. More money means more tickets sold, more jerseys sold and at higher prices. The national team means more to us here than in Mexico. In Mexico you care about your local team, Club America or Chivas or Tijuana or whoever, but on this side of the border, it is your way of expressing your Mexican pride, your Mexican roots in a country that wishes to build walls against us. Mexico’s chief rivalry is against the United States, a battle that for many of us represents our own divided cultural identity. No wonder advocates of closed borders like Ann Coulter have been so alarmed by the spread of football in the United States.

These are the stakes of football; it is our nations, it is ourselves. This is why there is so much violence in football: because football contains everything worth dying for, which is another way of saying everything worth living for. One day, I will teach my children football as a means of knowing themselves. I will teach my children football as a means of knowing others. Football is a team sport; and teamwork is the best practice for building a society.

One day, I will teach my children football as a means of knowing themselves. 

This is not to say one must be a cog in a collectivist machine; the sport offers plenty for the individual too. Unsurpassed glory awaits those who compete at the highest level of football. Think of Pele, Beckham, Ronaldo. But on a team, the tension between the individual and the collective is transformed into the best efforts of the individual serving the needs of the team. This is the best way to teach the responsibilities of citizenship: that privileges and rights come from responsibilities.

In this technocratic world of routine, here, once every four years is duty, conflict, glory and belonging in all its ancient forms, delivered to the world through modern communication. Sure, it is commercialized and corrupt and all a big show. But like religion, it offers comforts and answers questions. It inspires violence but can pass on the most important of values and lessons. At the risk of sounding ridiculous: I do not know if it is possible for me to care about something more than I care for football.

This summer it will happen again. For months, speculation has been rampant and anticipation has built. Some say it is time for Brazil or Spain to return to former glory, others that Germany will be the first since the ’60s to win back to back to titles, and still others that it must be Argentina as this is Messi’s last chance to win it all. No one can be sure.

All we know is the world will once again come together to witness it. Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin. The heads of FIFA and migrant farmworkers from California. The world’s greatest athletes and little old me, all of us, together, hanging on the outcome. We will gather in the stadiums, we will watch on our phones, we will listen on the radio, we will celebrate in bars. All of us, groaning and cheering, at every pass, every foul, yelling at the ref, praying to God in every language on earth, from the Alps and the Sahara, from Seattle to Tokyo, from Copenhagen to Lima, from presidential palaces and refugee camps, all of us, unable to breathe, unable to watch, unable to look away, oh god it’s going to be a penalty kick isn’t it, no puede ser! No fue penal, no fue penal, no fue penal, no fue penal!!

Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly attributed the 1969 "soccer war" as between Honduras and Guatemala. The conflict was between Honduras and El Salvador.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
JR Cosgrove
6 years 1 month ago

One problem with soccer/football in the US. The most common score is 0 to 0.

Most kids in grades 1-4 play soccer but then switch to other sports or drop organized sports.

Vincent Couling
6 years 1 month ago

This article makes a small reference to the homophobia of Vladimir Putin's Russia, yet this is a major problem with the 2018 World Cup ... indeed, many gay footie fans are fearful about travelling to Russia to support their national teams ( http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-31/russia-world-cup-gay-socceroos-fans-told-not-to-hold-hands/9816326 ).

And what about supporters of the Mexican national team, and their notorious "puto" chant, a homophobic slur that has drawn fines from FIFA? This chant has crept into the US footie scene, and surely is a prominent issue that Antonio is aware of ... why no comment in his article? Waxing lyrical about the advantages that migrant youth bring to the US footie scene must surely be balanced with a frank admission of this dark shadow that needs to be faced urgently lest it grow in momentum! https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ftw/2018/04/30/lafc-speaks-out-against-fans-homophobic-chant-during-the-home-opener/111156280/

The world of football is often marred by homophobia, and an article that claims to illustrate what the World Cup can teach us about "everything" should surely not fail to make mention of the elephant in the room!

Antonio De Loera-Brust
6 years 1 month ago

Hey Vincent! This is Antonio, the author. You raise a valid point. There are of course lots of issues around homophobia in soccer, even more with racist taunts and racist violence from football hooligans. I myself have seen a violent attack on two African immigrants on a train platform in Germany from a group of drunk German football fans. I could write an entire book on my thoughts on all of this, but there was unfortunately simply not enough space in this already quite long article.

As for the "Puto" chant, I am well aware of it's controversial use and history; though without getting too semantic I would point out neither the word's strict literal meaning ("male prostitute") nor it's context (directed always at the opposing goalkeeper, never at individual players who are out as LGBT) in my mind demonstrate homophobic intent. That said, it clearly is part of a machista and sexist culture that needs to change. But like most cultural change it needs to happen from within. If you're concerned about it I'd recommend this piece by a LGBT Chicano fan: https://fusion.tv/story/71932/puto-mexico-soccer-chant/

Again, I could write an entire other article simply about everything I was forced to leave out - the politics of race and diversity on European national teams like France and Germany's, the involvement of football ultras in resisting the 2016 Turkish coup attempt, the violence of football games in the former Yugoslavia, especially when teams like Serbia and Albania meet, the poor labor conditions and human rights abuses in terms of stadium construction that we saw in Rio de Janeiro and now in Qatar, and of course the entirety of the Women's World Cup, and how it reflects a global North-South development gap. Perhaps someday I will be able to write about each of those topics. Nevertheless, I hope my central points about football came across, and I do think I included plenty of the "dark shadows" in global football. 

Vincent Couling
6 years 1 month ago

Hey Antonio! Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment. It's much appreciated! I think that you are perhaps being a bit naive about the meaning and context of the "puto" chant. My understanding is that the word "puto" is often used to insult gay men ... much like the word "faggot" in the English-speaking world. Talking about strict literal meanings seems to be a bit of a cop out.

To illustrate how pertinent this issue is, this anti-gay chant was used throughout the L.A. Galaxy Pride Night last night! The purpose of this annual Pride Night is to welcome members of the LGBT community to attend a space that has been so unwelcoming for so very long. I quote from the outsports article https://www.outsports.com/2018/5/31/17412316/gay-galaxy-pride-night-puto-chant-mls :

"Homophobic chants echoed throughout an LGBTQ Pride Night at a Major League Soccer match. Kevin Baxter, the sports columnist and soccer expert for the Los Angeles Times, said he did not personally hear the slur, but he told Outsports that multiple colleagues reported to him that they did in fact hear the slur chanted throughout the match. “I thought we were past this, especially in MLS,” Baxter said. “It’s really embarrassing and hurtful — more so on a night set aside to celebrate pride at the stadium where the first gay professional athlete in American history made his debut.” Baxter is referring to Robbie Rogers, the soccer player who came out in 2003 and went on to win the MLS Cup in 2004 with the Galaxy." This moment represents a reckoning for Major League Soccer. For years we have heard about policies and statements. We have seen rainbow scarves and inclusion videos. Yet these insidious chants, which fans know perfectly well are homophobic in nature, persist. And this time, it’s personal. This time it’s a hate crime on our turf, a Pride Night designed to welcome our community to a sports world long held as inaccessible to us. This time we were met with pure disgust. It is time for Major League Soccer to choose whether it is going to end this behavior or equivocate on it. There is no longer a middle ground — Fans chanting homophobic slurs during an LGBTQ Pride Night have forced the league’s hand. Now the league must choose. If MLS is truly on the side of acceptance and inclusion, it must issue a two-step procedure to handle these issues. No more statements, no more scarves. This mandates real action. The first time during a match any league or team employee, including officials, hears the “puto” chant, the game officials must stop the match. Team or league representatives should address the fans with a warning and ask them to identify anyone who has chanted the slur. Those people must be removed, their game tickets withdrawn, and any season tickets revoked. After the game re-commences, if the slur is chanted again, the stadium must be cleared of all fans and the match completed in front of an empty stadium. Anything short of this policy by MLS can be construed as Major League Soccer giving a giant green light to this abhorrent behavior continuing, because without drastic action it’s not going to stop. We have tried it their way for a while. MLS’s “whack-a-mole” approach to this behavior has clearly not worked if the slur is heard throughout the stadium on a night intended to demonstrate LGBTQ inclusion, in a city held up as a beacon of hope for our community. Let me repeat: If MLS does not adopt a fire-and-brimstone policy toward the “puto” chant, and if the league does not implement it immediately, the league is condoning the behavior. Soccer organizations have adopted this empty-stadium policy to combat racism for many years. And I’m sorry, but some lovely inclusion videos don’t erase the harm of stadiums chanting slurs. Major League Soccer is at a crossroads. Now it must act in the most demonstrable way possible or accept that these chants will continue."


Vincent Couling
6 years 1 month ago

Hey Antonio,

I really need to get something off my chest … not to be quarrelsome or personal, but because the substance of your comment reveals something that I believe needs to be brought out into the open and set right.

You claim that the “puto” chant is never directed at individual players who are out as LGBT. That you can say this without even a trace of irony really troubles me. Can you please tell us how many players from around the globe who will be participating in the upcoming World Cup are out as LGBT, and can you name them? Can you tell us, at any match where the “puto” chant has been directed only at the opposing goalkeeper, who were the participating out LGBT players on the field who were spared the chant? Does it not strike you as somewhat revealing that there are no out players? Can you possibly try to imagine why? Driving the problem underground and out of sight certainly doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist or isn’t as bad as other issues! Rather, it means that the problem is actually deep seated and extremely serious.

When you concede that there are issues around homophobia in footie but “even more” with racist taunts and violence, I am left bewildered. Why the need to make this distinction? Perhaps my astonishment arises because I live on the African continent. In my country, the national women’s football team had an out lesbian player who was a real star. Eudy Simelane was assaulted, raped and murdered by a group of angry young men who left 28 stab wounds on her face, chest and legs. So-called “corrective rape” of lesbians is all too common in the townships, the crude idea being that if they experience how it is to be with a real man, they will realize what they have been missing out on and will inevitably return to what they actually are … i.e. straight. Homosexuality is criminalized in all but one of the countries on this continent … and Eudy was fortunate (???) to live in the one where it isn’t. Coming out as an LGBT soccer player is impossible, taboo, unthinkable, unimaginable in this neck of the woods!

Are you familiar with the fate of Justin Fashanu, the first professional footballer to come out as gay? After his coming out, no club offered him a full-time contract, and he ended up committing suicide, leaving behind a note saying "I realised that I had already been presumed guilty. I do not want to give any more embarrassment to my friends and family."

An accurate synopsis of homosexuality in association football can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_association_football . The dearth of out professional footie players is a real scandal.

Your article examines the divide between enclaves of white affluence and the kids of farmworkers, and how “the United States needs to harness the fundamental egalitarian nature of soccer.” Indeed! But there are many ways to discriminate, and it is one of life’s viciously cruel little ironies that sometimes those who have been discriminated against based on criteria like race can in turn be extremely discriminatory against LGBT people … sometimes even to the point of corrective rape and murder. LGBT people span the race and affluence divides … they can be rich or poor white kids or black kids or latino kids … and they can suffer enormously no matter where they fall on this spectrum.

From my perspective, the “puto” chant is one more way of letting professional gay players know that they should stay in the closet if they wish to survive … which is one more way of depriving LGBT youth of healthy role models, thereby sustaining an iniquitous cycle of enforcing a global taboo.

Antonio, I will leave it at that. I repeat that my wish is not to be quarrelsome, or to argue that one kind of cruel and unjust discrimination is worse than any other. But I also cannot remain quiet when the Elephant in the Room, that is, anti-gay discrimination in soccer, is seemingly glossed over or minimized, for that would be a sin of omission. It is certainly one of the principal things to reflect upon as the great drama of the World Cup once again plays out on the world stage.

Antonio De Loera-Brust
6 years 1 month ago

Well Im certainly not trying to minimize or gloss over any of that; and I wasn't aware of those stories you shared. That is obviously tragic. And of course, different countries have different levels of acceptance of LGBT people. Latin America is undoubtedly behind the United States and Europe. I feel you are right about the scale of the problem and I admire you attempting to do something about it, I would just caution on ascribing bigoted and homophobic motivation to every Mexican fan who uses the chant when there is already so much racial and cultural tension between Latinos and Whites around participation in American football culture. We must avoid pitting the Latino cause against the LGBT cause. That's why the link I shared with you was a Latino LGBT voice. I think it's possible to recognize the harm the chant causes while still retaining the nuance around it's meaning and intent. 

Vincent Couling
6 years 1 month ago

Dear Antonio,

The way I see it, if the "Latino cause" isn't to be pitted against the "LGBT cause", then the "puto" chant should come to an end. No matter the nuance around its meaning and intent, from what I can make out, the word is sufficiently compromised that it has absolutely no place in the soccer stadium. I mean no disrespect by being unbending on this, but it is a very personal issue for us LGBT folk.

If we are going to seriously examine the nuances around the word's meaning and intent by listening to Latino LGBT voices, then we should also consider insights such as this from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/18/sports/in-wake-of-orlando-shootings-mexican-soccer-chant-offends-many.html?_r=0 and https://www.outsports.com/2016/6/19/11972274/mexico-chile-copa-puto-gay-slur

"“The whole point is that the choice of this word is absolutely linked to a negative, homophobic meaning,” said Enrique Torre Molina, a Mexican who is campaign manager at All Out, an international gay rights organization. “‘Puto’ is the word many gay men have been called in school or even by family members to mock us or put us down. ‘Puto’ is the word many gay men hear as they’re being beaten, sometimes to death, in the daily homophobic crimes committed in Latin America.”

He added: “What is kind of infuriating, especially after tragedies like the Orlando shooting and any other homophobic crime that happens, is to read and hear people refusing to let it go after having so many gay men literally asking for them to drop it. If you have a group of people saying, 'Hey, when you use this word, it hurts,’ why not drop it?”"

We must also consider personal anecdotes such as this from https://www.outsports.com/2017/7/12/15962930/gay-fans-put-soccer

"The pain this fan felt hearing the chant over and over and over again was reflected in the reaction by another gay fan, who was at the Mexico match in San Diego last weekend.

The husband of an American military service member, who feels the need to hide his relationship where he is stationed in the Middle East, he was equally appalled:

'I wore my USA soccer jersey with rainbow numbers that US Soccer sold for Pride month to the match. After having a group of 30 or so Mexico fans coordinate a “puto” chant directly at us in the parking lot, I was afraid to turn around in my seat or look around the stands for fear of making eye contact with the wrong person.

Thinking about it makes me particularly emotional because I was attending with tickets I purchased through the San Diego naval base MWR office. I just returned from a trip to visit my husband stationed in the Middle East earlier this year where we constantly had to be vigilant about how we acted toward one another and who was around us. That’s not an experience I ever expected to have in 2017 America, much less California. But that’s the experience I relived again on Sunday.'

This is the reality of stadiums and organizations like FIFA and CONCACAF allowing matches to be played as these chants pour out of the stands.

There are policies that organizations like Major League Soccer, CONCACAF and various cities and states have that should be shutting this all down. Matches should be suspended. Stadiums should be cleared. Fans should be banned from attending games. Until that all happens — until these organizations get serious about protecting LGBT fans and players from abuse — the fans from Mexico and other countries will continue to proudly harass all of us with their insolence."

amanda frank
6 years 1 month ago

Ronaldooooo love youuuuu...Even i'm a great fan of Ronaldo, I think US teams have a chance to achieve the world cup but the team still needs unique for a better team play...i really sad that i have some assignments to do and i will miss to watch this world cup...what i did is just find an assignment help australia and there is no any other way that i can enjoy the world cup of my fav team..

Shayne LaBudda
6 years 1 month ago

0-0? Don't watch much football then I suspect.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
6 years 1 month ago

Wishing footballers, the match officials, the organizers, the media, and the fans - a blessed time at the World Cup in Russia.

6 years 1 month ago

I enjoyed reading this beautifully written article, thank you Antonio. I’ve been following World Cups since I was a girl, my first memory is the 1966 one, played in England. I remember crying over the terribly unjust expulsion of Ubaldo Rattin, Captain of the Argentina football team. Playing with 10 men, Argentina maintained the 0 to 0 against England and it was only in overtime that a questionable penalty gave the victory to England. So, when you mention the 1986 World Cup victory and what that meant in the context of the recent war, I think many of us lived is as a reversal of fate and retribution that was fair to get 20 years after the 1966 injustice. I also want to add that every World Cup “re-writes” the glorious tango “El sueño del pibe”, with different names of players, making a reality some childhood dream. It’s a common passion and dream shared across the world, as you well said. Thank you

6 years 1 month ago

Enjoy “El sueño del pibe”: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=El+Sueno+Del+Pibe+Enrrique+Campos&&view=detail&mid=CFFCF13FABE84F1D276ECFFCF13FABE84F1D276E&&FORM=VRDGAR

Stephen Spiewak
6 years 1 month ago

Hi Antonio, really enjoyed this article!

You mention the spread of soccer in the US and the distaste that some (Coulter) have for it. Thought you might be interested to see that roughly half of American states would root for the Mexican team over the US team: https://www.vividseats.com/blog/who-the-us-will-root-for-2018-world-cup

Enjoy the games. Please reach out if I can ever assist you or any of the good work taking place at America.


Jim Petkiewicz
6 years 1 month ago

I love me some Mexico and Peru, but am pulling for the tiniest qualified nation, Iceland, to pull off the upset!

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