Is South America better off without Mexican clubs?

May 10, 2009

Mexican clubs have stormed out of the South American Libertadores Cup after a row over the H1N1 flu outbreak and the national side will no longer take part at the Copa America.

“The game is over for us,” said Justino Compean, president of the Mexican Football Federation (FMF).

Mexican authorities threw their toys out of the pram after Brazilian champions Sao Paulo and Uruguay’s Nacional declined to travel to the country to face Guadalajara and San Luis respectively in the Libertadores Cup second round.

Yet, the weekend’s league matches in both Guadalajara and San Luis were played behind closed doors under the orders of the FMF itself because both are considered to be in regions where there is thought to be a higher risk of the virus.

Given the circumstances, it seemed premature, to say the least, to claim that either city would make an appropriate venue for an international sporting fixture.

Some commentators, notably David Faitelson writing for the Mexican edition of ESPN’s Web site, have questioned whether any football at all should be played in Mexico in the present circumstances.

“Has anyone asked the players what they think?” he asked.

Most media have reported matches as if almost nothing unusual was going on – either this weekend, when clubs in some regions were allowed to admit fans under strict conditions, or the previous one, when all games were played behind closed doors.

There is also the matter of Mexico’s uncomfortable relationship with the South American confederation.

Mexican clubs have been taking part in the Libertadores, the regions’s equivalent of the Champions League, for more than a decade under a special agreement.

They also play in the Copa Sudamericana, a sort of UEFA Cup-type contest, and the national team has been a guest at the Copa America since 1993. But it has never been the happiest of relationships.

Mexican officials and media often complain that their teams have received second class treatment at the hands of referees and disciplinary commissions, yet there is also the feeling that the Mexicans only take the Libertadores seriously when it suits them.

The Mexicans have repeatedly failed to send their top clubs to the Libertadores, instead organising an “Interliga” tournament, involving eight teams and played in the United States, to decide who qualifies.

This frequently results in midtable teams representing the country, making a mockery of the Libertadores.

Two years ago, Mexican club America fielded a reserve team in their quarter-final tie against Brazil’s Santos because of a clash with local matches, which the FMF refused to re-scheduled.

A greater insult to their hosts would have been harder to imagine. Perhaps Mexico’s withdrawal will be cheered by much of the continent.

PHOTO: A security guard wears a surgical mask as he sits in the empty Azul stadium during a Mexican League Championship soccer match between Indios and Cruz Azul in Mexico City May 2, 2009.REUTERS/Henry Romero

3 comments

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Obviously you don’t know anything about soccer. Only Brazilian teams and a couple of teams in Argentina could be considered superior. It is mostly because of the infrastructure of the Mexican Soccer Federation. Without Mexico they have no money, read the news, the Conmebol is asking Mexico to reconsider its position. All the companies that are willing to put money into the Copa libertadores do it because of the Mexican teams. Maybe you don’t agree but it is the truth. They are not doing any favor to Mexico.

Posted by Arturo | Report as abusive

Libertadores is the most boring tournament in soccer. Mexico, Argentina and Brazil are the only countries with leagues big enough to send more than two competitive teams to the Libertadores. Without Mexico the tournament will be even more boring than usual.

As far as Mexican soccer goes, they pay European salaries to mediocre players and Mexican fans are too stupid to realize it..or they just don’t care. Rome had bread and circuses, Mexico has cheap beer and soccer.

Check out the FIFA club rankings and you will see that Mexiaco’s top clubs rarely break the top 35 in the world.

Posted by todd | Report as abusive

Trust me the argentinian and brasilian leagues are the most competives besides if you knew about football, then you\’d realise mexico isnt even supposed to go in the Libertadores cup. there just invited since the other teams are way to damn pathetic to even pass the first round. also Libertadores isn\’t the most boring tournament in football, way better than the MLS and is equaled only by the Champions league in Europe. The only reason its not well known is that they\’re from south america and whatever is from there or any other country in the world except USA and Europe is considered mediocre.

Posted by Carlos | Report as abusive