World Cup Update: Mexico Wins a Football Victory

by Carlos Balbuena

We love football, especially the World Cup. Call it football, soccer, or whatever you want, it doesn’t matter. You’ve just gotta love the sport. And we do, here, in México. The country went nuts when our national team defeated the Germans, who were the reigning World Cup champions. We went crazy because most of us didn’t believe they could win that game – our football victory. But I’ve realized that there’s something about having a more positive ideology than having better football skills.

History Tinges Reality

We are a people who tend to look down, rather than up. Historically, we have been a submitted people. Originally, we were a feared people and great conquerors. Our ancient Aztec ancestors ruled a good part of southwestern North America. Then the Spanish invasion happened. They forced new spiritual beliefs and duties for everyone as if to say, “there you go, everything you’ve believed before is a lie, thank you so much.”


And pretty much everything went downhill, ideologically speaking, from that point. We had viceroys, an inquisition, martyrs, heroes who turned into villains, villains who turned into heroes, and even an Austro-Hungarian emperor for a while. But what comes out of all that is that we became a people who were used to being ruled. We were used to being told what to do and what to expect, to count our losses and move on, and to settle with the little things we were able to keep.

Ideologically, we grew up as a country with these kinds of thoughts. So it is hard for us to believe that mere discipline and effort will make you successful. Our Mexican dream is going to the US and living the so-called American dream. It’s ironic because we are a religious people. However, we don’t have faith in anything other than our religion. So in this pessimistic ambient, our national team went to Russia’s World Cup. We didn’t believe in our team’s football victory.


The Build-Up to the WIN

I watched the game with some friends. Not a single one really believed our team could win a football victory. Some of them were even shocked when I said, “México will win,” I looked at my friends, “ two to one. Two goals from Chucky Lozano and one from Werner.” My suggestion was laughably dismissed as a naive dream. I took another sip of my beer and never lost confidence while I explained my reasons.


It was a late night. Saturday. A friend of mine had let us crash in his house so we could wake up early to watch the game.

Side note: Here, in México, we’re late all the time. It’s disrespectful, to be honest, but it’s something so ubiquitous that we really live with it. “Oh, we have a date at7? I’ll be there at 7:30, maybe even 8:00.” It’s terrible, I know. I just want to point out that I’m not like that! However, as Mexicans, we really are like that.

Back to the story: We decided to crash at my friend’s place to avoid this problem. No one would be able to miss the game because they were late, as always. By the time the match was about to begin, we were all gathered in the living room around the screen. We were nervous and eager to see the game.

We have a phrase in México to describe our national football team: We played like never, we lose like always. The audience gets frustrated every time our team losses, but we never miss a game. When an important match is coming, you can tell. Street after street is deserted. There is not a single person outside a house or a bar, watching the game.

An Unbelievable Football Match

But during this match, that phrase we say all the time didn’t seem to fit. This time, our team played like we have always demanded they should play. We won, which almost never happens! We couldn’t believe it. México was dominating the game! They looked dangerous in the counter-attacks and solid in defense. Germany actually looked confused! I can’t remember any other time I saw a German team member pass behind a ball or change sides just to see if he could pass. I honestly can’t!

They are a winning team, coming from a winning-mentality country. They are famous for discipline and for thorough efforts for perfection. They’re not used to losing a game, much less to be overcome by another team – by México’s team!

At minute 35, in a counter-attack, our most promising player (who is only 22 years old) shoots a fantastic goal that unravels a splendid surprise and an incredible joy throughout our country. I heard shouts from houses nearby, celebrating. My friends and I leaped into the air, jumping and hugging. I know that this reaction can be extrapolated to every corner in México. It was an amazing first half. But we suffered more than enough in the second half.

Mexico-win-world-cup-patchThe Second Half

Another thing that characterizes us Mexicans is the fear of losing what we have. Insecurity is a big deal in most of the country. This, plus what I said earlier should be enough to understand the nervousness we felt throughout the entirety of the second half.

We had the upper hand, but we feared we could lose it. And we almost did. México didn’t take chances and missed a lot of opportunities to increase the distance in the score. We were all incredibly nervous and screamed a lot at the TV. By the time we heard the final whistle, we were relieved. We were really happy as our faces could give away into smiles instead of worry. We had won our football victory!

The moment the match finished, I got a text from my cousin, saying, “let’s go celebrate! We’re going to the Angel.” The Angel of Independence is the place where we gather in the capital. We gather there as a city, as a nation, to celebrate sports triumphs, complain about our government in mass marches, etcetera.

Looking Ahead in the World Cup

Unfortunately, I couldn’t go since I had other important things to do. These were, of course, paused by the importance of this game to me and to my country. There are lots of things going on here. Although we’re about to elect a new president, we are football people. Call it a social distractor or whatever you want, but we love it.

The reactions throughout the entire country were of astonishment and excitement. People are fully behind this team now. Although this is good, I don’t like that we’re only supportive during the good times. That’s another topic for another day, I guess.

Anyway, I hope this little text helps you see a little bit of how we live during a game here, in my country. It was absolute pandemonium in the streets. We are very festive here in México. It’s something we’re famous for! Everywhere we go, we try to be joyful and warm. We have a lot of expectations during this World Cup. If we qualify as first place in our group, there’s a good chance that we won’t face Brazil. Brazil is our main concern before the World Cup. So all in all, everyone is happy. Mexico has at least one football victory on the books. 


A Globe Trotter’s Take on the World Cup 

by Carlos Balbuena

Who came up with the idea of gathering 20 people, giving them a black-and-white spotted ball of leather filled with air, and told them: go on, kick the ball until you push it through this line. Oh, and you can’t use your hands. The only one allowed to use his hands is this dude right here who will use them to stop you from kicking the ball through the line. 


It sounds so simple. And yet, the outcome has been so beautiful. There’s no other sport with the summoning capacity of football. Football is about belonging. Belonging to a community, the team you support, and the nation you’re from. It’s about tenacity, tactic and skill. But it is also about millions and millions of earnings via merchandising, stadium attendance, tv transmission contracts, advertisements, and publicity.  

Football is Life 

Football is entertainment. It’s a gigantic business. However, football is also a way of life. It’s something similar to a religion for lots of people. Football, in other words, has become (through many years) a global, social phenomenon. Every football country lives it differently. But if there’s something these football-loving countries have in common, it’s a pure, infatuated passion for this beautiful sport. The world, as far as football fans are concerned, stops for an entire month every four years.  


Expectations for the World Cup builds up with every passing year. When the World Cup is only a few weeks away – like right now – the hype is huge: people buy their team’s shirt, contract TV cable to watch it, and plan reunions with friends to watch games. It’s a common topic of conversation between friends, and an awesome ice breaker between groups. As the day comes closer, most of our discussion mainly dwells in who’s going to play for the national squad. We talk about the players who want to be there. Ultimately, the manager has the decision. However, the whole country discusses whom he should and shouldn’t take to Russia.  

The Most Important Event of the Year 


The sports broadcast channels talk about the World Cup 24/7. They talk about the drama of the injured players at risk of losing the world cup. They talk about the Russian cities that will host the matches, Russian culture, the main candidates and the so-called black horse of the competition. This is a way to learn about a new country, and a possible destination for your next travel destination. Russia will do it’s best to show us the best they have. They’ll put on a great show to show the world their way of life, their culture, and their beautiful landscapes. Being a host of the World Cup puts you in the spotlight. It’s a great way to expose your country as a brand or as a product for people to see and consume.  

Television sports broadcasters talk a lot about the sport, of course, but they also send reporters to show us Russia, in this case. TV, at least in México, tries to immerse the spectator as much as possible. They send reporters just to cover museums, clubs, landscapes and everything else a country could offer. México is a huge football-loving country. I’ve heard many times that México takes more interest in football than worrying about more important issues, like elections. During the World Cup, we will elect a new president. And still, the World Cup gets as much attention, or possibly even more, as this major political event.  

Build Up for the Big Day 

All in all, this event is so hyped for the fans that we simply can’t wait anymore! It’s the biggest sporting event besides the Olympics. I feel that the World Cup Series is even more popular than the Olympics. Football reaches millions of people. It reaches people that range from amateur players dreaming of the big leagues, to fans like me: awful players, but passionate followers nonetheless.  


As a famous player once said, “football is the most important thing amongst the non-important things.” This can be easily proved if I tell you that the last World Cup was seen by 3.2 billion people by TV alone. That statistic doesn’t include the spectators that traveled to Brazil to watch the games live. So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. Regardless, it’s still just another form of entertainment. Albeit, it’s arguably the biggest event in the world. And us fans, were eager to hear the starting whistle! 

Check out my next post about the World Cup!