Members of the Mexico national team were caught by a gossip magazine (TVNotas) going to an afterparty after the Mexico vs. Scotland game. According to the reports, the party was apparently filled with escorts and some of the players didn’t leave until the next day. The event was then grabbed by an opportunistic Mexican press that hides behind morality to take advantage of the “controversy” to sell papers, get clicks and TV ratings. Like the 2010 party in Monterrey, parts of the Mexican press show how manipulative they can be and how close they are to the yellow journalism who broke this story.
In 2010, Mexico faced Colombia in a friendly and defeated them 1-0. After the game, Mexican reporters heard and took pictures of a major party between females and the Mexican national team players. After the event, the press took the opportunity and made a scandal out of it that resulted in a 6 month suspension to Efrain Juarez and Carlos Vela. A clash between the players and upper management ensued, ending with Nestor de la Torre quitting his position as Director of the National teams. Lost in all the “outrage” were several key points.
A) The party was a private event in a closed location that the reporters had to seek out
B) The party happened AFTER Mexico had played and won the game
C) The friendly turned out to be incredibly POINTLESS. Mexico didn’t have any important competition coming up, to the point that they didn’t even have a head coach. Efrain Flores was the interim coach for three games while the search for head coach was on. Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre wouldn’t be the official coach until February 2011.
The Monterrey party was a sad moment when the Mexican sport press went full moral police and tried to shame the players for what they did on their free time. Their excuse was all about professionalism and how it would affect them physically. But like it was pointed out, they were bogus claims as Mexico didn’t have any important competition coming up. While it’s not the case this time, it still a similar thing in that the party took place after the Scotland game. That means it took place with sizable gap of time before the next game on Saturday against Denmark. Players were going to spend most of the next day in their flight to Denmark anyway, a long flight that doesn’t need the players to be in top condition. However, apparently the press now feels that Mexican players need to be rested to spend 10 hours on a flight.
For a long time, one of the biggest myths in Mexico has been that the Mexican press is not as tough compared to the press in other countries. Reporters like Martin del Palacio (Mexican journalist based in Spain) have said that in terms of the national team, the Mexican press is a lot harsher than the Spanish press. It is that general perception that leads to situations to like the one on Saturday. I’m not referring to the party but to the fact that before the game the Mexican team beat Scotland 1-0 in a sendoff match. Instead of getting a positive send off, El Tri was roundly booed by a lot of the stadium. Many of those fans are probably the same fans judging the players for their party on Saturday, even when for many people worldwide it’s a lot more offensive for a whole stadium to chant a word that FIFA deemed homophobic and has punished the Mexican Federation constantly for (or how they talk about players partying too much but the screams of people needing rescues from drowning aren’t as loud as the ones of drunk fans at the Azteca shouting for beer sellers).
But here we are. Things like this have consequences and people might have forgotten how before Juan Carlos Osorio got hired to replace Miguel Herrera, the national team job was turned down by both domestic and international managers because of the pressure. To the point that Ricardo Ferrretti had to be an interim coach while the search continued (and he himself said he didn’t want the job long term). In a new world where the internet makes controversy and click bait is a bigger problem than ever, the Mexican press has fully embraced that type of journalism.
Football players have their right to privacy like anybody else. Most of the judgement comes from a moralist point of view that is severely misguided. It’s funny how a lot of it talks about athletes needing to be professional and how it may affect them physically, but NBA and NFL players have long subscribed to a party life and yet produce at the highest level of their sport. Things like that surely can have an effect (like the recent case with Carlos Peña) but this situation couldn’t be farther from that. Both in Monterrey and now in Mexico City, the party came the same day of a Mexican victory, and in both cases, nothing was happening the next day but a long flight. Sporting wise, the biggest hurdle is approaching for the Mexico national team, and it’s a press hungry for controversy which is getting in the way of Mexican football. Like many things in Mexico (like thinking it’s normal to boo your national team ahead of the most important tournament in the world) a lot of people will think something is normal and right, when it isn’t.