I understand how the business works. Make no mistake about it, World Futbol/Football, for all its pageantry and beauty is still a business. Some teams drive more revenue than others and TV contracts keep teams viable as a business. Vice versa, certain teams bring in big money to television networks through viewership increases and ratings.
The Mexican National Team is one of those such teams. A television deal with Univision and its family of networks has put Mexico at the forefront of revenue for years. While the results might not equal the screen time, El Tri has consistently sold a myriad of shirts and jerseys while also filling stadiums at a continuous rate and popping television ratings in the millions of viewers.
To be associated with the Mexican National Team like Tecate, Corona, Bud Light, Home Depot, AT&T and Univision are is good business. tuat good business takes a dive however, when the actions of the team become detrimental to the image and the values they are suddenly misrepresenting.
Against Panama two days ago in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Semi-Final, Mexico looked a team that had lost its identity and lost sight of itself. Within the first three minutes of the game their talisman, Carlos Vela elbowed someone in the sternum and got away with a blatant act of aggression that should have been a straight Red Card.
In the 30th minute, a lofted ball crossing midfield that was contested by both teams ended up being called a Red Card on Panama when a Mexican player feigned injury and rolled on the turf like he had been mortally wounded.
It was egregious and embarrassing, but much worse than all of this was the seeming collusion between Mexico and the game’s official. Long since criticized for favoritism and phantom penalties, Mexico was gifted a penalty in the 90th minute to tie the game, a penalty that was abundantly and clearly lacking in any sort of contact. When the Panamanian players refused to take the field for the penalty, they were pelted with bottles, a move encouraged by the Mexican players and their manager, Miguel Herrera.
As if the bottle throwing wasn’t enough, Herrera was seen getting into verbal altercations with Panamanian players and shoving them, as if he weren’t a manager of a National Team or someone who should be behaving and upholding a higher standard.
Unfortunately, the game ended with another phantom penalty, one which Andres Guardado converted to give Mexico berth into a final they didn’t deserve.
Much has been made of this game,with Mexican newspapers El Universal and Record both attacking Herrera and the team, calling their behavior and performance N embarrassment and asking for Herrera’s resignation.
The truth is, they should be embarrassed. In no way should the team be happy with their place in the final. It was unbecoming and for a team of their stature to resort to phantom penalties and feigning injuries is not just unsportsmanlike, but it’s absurd.
Furthermore, Herrera lost control of himself and his team. The minute Vela threw an elbow he should have reigned it in and gotten control of his team. Instead, he egged it on. When his team watched as the Panamanians got pelted with bottles, he should have taken his team off the field instead of encouraging the behavior and egging on the fans.
And when they won? He shouldn’t have celebrated because there was nothing to be joyous about.
His latest comments are probably the most telling, unfortunately.
He told reporters before the Panama game that his team should get special treatment from CONCACAF because they are the ones selling tickets and filling stadiums.
Two phantom penalties and a win you didn’t deserve are special treatment enough.
And I get it. I truly understand that Mexico or the U.S. in the final is more lucrative than Panama or Jamaica. To be proud of the fact the federation helped you get to that point however? To take pride in a victory you were gift-wrapped? To see nothing wrong in the behavior of your team or the way you advanced?
That’s also a reason for change.
The Mexican National Team shouldn’t be run by a man who is so unscrupulous in his words, so loose in his morals or so non-upstanding with his behavior and actions that it begins to reflect on the team itself and their identity.
A country’s sporting identity looks shameful today, and it’s Herrera and the National Team’s fault.
That needs to change. Quickly.
The only way you can do that is by changing the culture, and changing it radically. A change that needs to be put in effect from the top on down.
Tags: CONCACAF, Mexican National Team, Miguel Herrera, Soccer