FIFA has sanctioned Mexico with five losses and a fine of 10,000 Swiss Francs (about 10,900 US dollars) for fielding Alejandro Zendejas, who was ineligible. Mexico will have to forfeit the senior team friendlies against Guatemala and Ecuador as well as the U23 friendlies against Romania, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. Zendejas, who played in the 2015 U17 World Cup with the United States, had to have made a One Time Switch (OTS) to the Mexican Federation to play with the Mexican National Team, but didn’t and still took part in all those matches. It was a decision that could have been worse for Mexico, who would have been stripped of their Bronze Medal in the 2022 Olympics had Zendejas been called up for the tournament.
It’s another low for Mexico and President Yon de Luisa, as Mexico gets sanctioned for Zendejas’ participation. The 2021 friendly against Ecuador (2-3) and the tie against Guatemala in Orlando in 2022 (0-0) are now losses by a 0-3 score. Worse yet were the 2021 U23 friendlies, where Mexico got two wins and a tie. Now the matches against Romania (1-0), Saudi Arabia (1-1) and Australia (3-2) are also turned into three matches that end with a 0-3 score. Still Mexico in a sense got lucky. If Zendejas, who played well and scored the goal against Saudi Arabia, had made the Olympic team, Mexico would have lost the Olympic participation that ended with them getting a Bronze medal. Luckily Coach Jaime Lozano cut Zendejas from the team. It’s incredibly worrisome that Mexico isn’t clear in situations where they need to have OTS, especially after knowing how key having ineligible players could be. For example, Peru made the 2018 World Cup because of getting three points after Bolivia fielded an ineligible player.
If Mexico is going to continue capping players from other federations, the rules like the OTS are needed. It’s a bad sign that press and fans still don’t seem to grasp. When the Zendejas news came out, many people in the press thought that it didn’t matter that Zendejas didn’t have an OTS because he not only played friendlies but they were non FIFA date friendlies. Apparently the thinking was that they weren’t real friendlies that didn’t count, which obviously in hindsight wasn’t true. Worse yet is that this week there was a lot of news and criticism as the federation after Brandon Vazquez was called up for the US National Team, and how Vazquez said that the Mexican Federation hadn’t contacted him. There were a lot of criticisms of the Mexican Federation, but the fact is that Vazquez is also ineligible to play with the Mexican National Team. Like Zendejas, he also played in the 2015 U17 World Cup with the United States and thus he would have to do an OTS to play a match, any match, with Mexico. So not only does Mexico not have a NT manager or a match to call Vazquez to, but he wouldn’t be able to be called up if they were. If Mexico plans to have Vazquez be a part of any Mexican team in the future, they need an OTS. Regardless, Mexico should be very careful about this from now on as they had been lucky before but now their luck ran out.