Like many Mexican-Americans, I was astonished by the results of last week’s presidential election. I was angry, disappointed and afraid because of the rhetoric spilled by now President-elect Donald Trump, especially towards Mexican immigrants and Mexico.
This past Friday, the United States and Mexico’s national soccer teams played each other for a World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Ohio. What a coincidence that a big game between two countries would take place in one of the swing states that helped elect Trump.
As a result of this new presidency, the relationship going forward between both countries remains uncertain.
Some feared that this game might become politicized and have racist chants. However, the U.S. soccer community showed us what America could be like at its best.
Take Ryan Youtz, a 32-year-old social worker from Omaha, Nebraska, for example.
He skipped the usual U.S. fan tailgates and walked around introducing himself to fans of Mexico.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, Youtz said, “I quite simply want to be human with them, I think letting strangers who are likely residents or citizens of my country but who are Mexican national team fans know that they are valued and appreciated is important.”
The results of the election are not going to change and this is just a game. Despite everything the American soccer community has decided to take a stand against bigotry.
The American Outlaws are the United States most passionate fan group boasting over 30,000 fans, and travel to every game home or away. The fan group sent out a tweet, that racist chants like “Build a Wall” would not be tolerated. They encouraged supporters to drown those chants out and report the fans chanting racist chants to the appropriate authorities.
Soccer fans are known for their banter and have sometimes been known to chant offensive and even racist language towards their opponents. The fact that the American Outlaws took a stand against racist chants towards their biggest rivals is telling.
In an interview with the Washington Post midfielder Alejandro Bedoya of the U.S. National team said that he expected fans to behave themselves.
“The atmosphere is awesome and one of kind, and that is what people will bring here and hopefully nothing else,” Bedoya said in the interview.
“There is no need for negative chants from either side. People want to politicize this game, but I don’t think there is a need for that.”
Part of the reason I became a U.S. soccer fan is because of the diversity on the team. The U.S. team that played against Mexico included African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, German-Americans, a Native American, and that was just the starting eleven. Even though they come from different backgrounds, they all work together to achieve a common goal.
Soccer teams traditionally take a picture with the starting eleven before the game to commemorate the moment, but when the U.S. team decided to take their pregame picture with the Mexican National team, I was never more proud to be a fan of this team.
They showed the world that despite what our new president thinks or says, Americans are better than the racist rhetoric being spilled. They also showed the world what America could be.