To answer the question about Cruz Azul we first need to look at the bigger picture of what has and is going on in Liga MX. Ever since I can remember, I have always been told that in Mexico the four “big” clubs are America, Chivas, Pumas, and Cruz Azul. Until recently, I never really questioned that statement, but I am starting to have some doubts. In order to make a determination we have to start by asking a few questions. What is the criteria for being a “big” club and do all four of these clubs still meet the criteria?
What is it that makes a team one of the big teams in a league? First, the club has to be from a large and important city in Mexico. America, Pumas, and Cruz Azul are all from Mexico City; the capital and largest city in the country. Chivas is from Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco and second largest city in the country. All four of the big clubs meet this criteria, so let’s move on to the next one.
Second, it has to have a large fan base within the city and beyond. There is no disputing that America and Chivas have this one in the bag. They have huge fanbases in their respective cities, throughout Mexico, the U.S., and wherever anyone of Mexican descent resides. Chivas invokes feelings of patriotism and national pride in Mexicans and those of Mexican descent. As long as people of Mexican heritage continue to be born, Chivas will never have to worry about a diminishing fan base. America is associated with glamour, big name signings, Estadio Azteca, Televisa and winning. Therefore, as long as those things remain in place they will not have any issues.
Pumas has one of the largest fan bases in Mexico City and because of its affiliation with the university (UNAM) they are constantly creating more fans. These former students/fans graduate and move all over Mexico and beyond. Pumas is also associated with youth culture and rebellion, two things that will always be popular, guaranteeing that the club will always have a large following.
However, Cruz Azul has a problem in this area. They have a large following in Mexico City, a bit less throughout Mexico, and some in U.S., but because of their consistent failures, the fan base is not growing and may even be shrinking. They cannot rely on their “blue collar” worker image to maintain and grow their fanbase.
Third, a consistent tradition of winning is necessary to be considered big. A big club should not go more than a decade without winning. America has twelve championships. Yes, they came mostly in the 1980’s, but they have won at least once in every decade except the 1990’s. Chivas also has twelve championships, mostly in the 1960’s, but they have won at least once per decade since the 1950’s. Pumas only has seven, making them the least winning team among the big four. Their consistency is what saves them. They have won at least once per decade since the 1970’s; the 2000’s have been their most successful decade. Cruz Azul has eight championships starting in the late 1960’s, and their heyday was the 1970’s. Their problem in meeting this part of the criteria is that they have not won a championship since 1997, that is over twenty years! A club cannot go that long mired in mediocrity and expect their fan base to remain loyal. Moreover, they will certainly not make new fans by consistently breaking their hearts with failures.
Fourth, the team has to bring in or develop great players on a consistent basis. America has produced some great players in the past but they are mostly known for bringing in established players. Their big name signings have mostly been successful, with only a few exceptions. Chivas is hindered by their “only Mexicans” policy but they still have managed to develop or buy some amazing talent. Pumas lags behind the others in this category because of their lack of spending but they still manage to develop a good number of noteworthy players. Every once in a while they also find a hidden gem to bring in. Cruz Azul has brought in many expensive big name players, the list is miles long. Many of those players have achieved great individual success. A few times, Cruz Azul has even had great team performances but it has not led to a league championship since 1997.
Sorry “Cementeros” but meeting 1 out of 4 criteria is not good enough. 25% is not a passing grade. For over twenty years, the administrators, coaches, and players have given their fans nothing but false hopes and heartbreak. They have let their once great team become a joke. Go ahead and Google “Cruz Azul memes”, the results would be funny if they weren’t so sad. The truth hurts and the truth is that they are no longer deserving of the title of “big club”. Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.