The Rose Bowl hosted Saturday’s Gold Cup final between Mexico and the United States, and as the more talented and energetic Mexican squad capped a dominant 4-2 victory after spotting the Americans a two-goal lead, senior Sports Illustrated soccer writer Grant Wahl, noting the heavily pro-Mexican crowd, tweeted “Let’s be clear: Almost everyone in this stadium is American. And it’s kind of cool.”
I found Wahl’s comment infuriating on several levels. Not only did his blanket statement leave me wondering how many social security cards he’d checked as fans entered the stadium, it assigned my nationality to a fan base that is among the most vulgar, foul, and subhuman in all of sport. The filth of Mexican soccer fans is well documented: the chants of “Osama” at a 2005 match, their insistence at drowning out “The Star-Spangled Banner” with boos, the bags of urine and cups of vomit thrown at U.S. players. But I’ve always assigned those actions to Mexican fanatics in the legendarily brutal Estadio Azteca in Mexico City; I’ve never considered those animals to be American, and I certainly don’t relish that prospect as “cool.”
Uproxx reader Julie — a Boston native and therefore no stranger to boorish fans — traveled to Pasadena for the match. This is her account:
I decided to go to the Gold Cup final in Pasadena, as a single girl, I would never make the same trip to Azteca, so I figured this would be as close as I got.
We arrived to tailgate with the American Outlaws, and were clearly outnumbered, I know Alexi Lalas thought the crowd break down would be 80/20, but it was more like 95/5.
I avoided most of the pushing and shoving stuff that went on in the parking lot and since I was with other girls, most guys just wanted pictures taken with the US girls. We had some good natured ribbing but nothing that would indicate what was coming.
When we got to the stadium, my ticket was for a US supporter’s section that was full of Mexican fans, so my friend told the security guard there was no way he would leave me alone to sit, and I was going to sit with the rest of my group. As the stadium filled in, we were shocked to see how few US fans were at the game, more shocked that we scored first. We went nuts in our section and the stadium went silent, same when the second goal was scored. When Mexico scored their first goal, we were showered with beer cups, half full water and coke bottles. One US fan had to leave because he was hit with a glass bottle. Security at the Rose Bowl didn’t care. Didn’t give a sh*t.
Second goal again we are getting pelted, so eventually, my guy friends would push us to the ground when Mexico would score and stand behind us to protect us from the debris being showered on us. When the game ended, we all ran to our cars and got the hell out of the stadium. Again not all the Mexican fans were bad, many of them shook our hands as we exited the stadium and told us better luck next time.
Most of us didn’t expect to win the game, but we also didn’t expect to be treated that way. While walking through the parking lot with my buddy, a Mexican fan yelled at us “go home.”
Kind of cool, right, Grant Wahl? The way all those Americans cheering for Mexico abused American fans in America?
There’s a minefield of racism and xenophobia to navigate here: the anger of Mexican immigrants toward a white America happy to exploit their labor but unsettled by their growing numbers; the incendiary subject of illegal immigration; the heated rivalry between two nations who share a border and are the region’s only soccer powers; the worldwide tendency for soccer fandom to skew towards hooliganism. But I can say this with certainty: the behavior of Mexican soccer fans — whether in the United States or in Mexico — is a mark of shame for our southern neighbors and shouldn’t be allowed — inside our borders or anywhere else.