If the U.S. soccer team were hoping for the home advantage during Saturday’s Gold Cup final then they were in for a nasty surprise.
Despite being the ‘home’ side in California’s Rose Bowl stadium, the majority of fans–most of them American born of naturalized Mexicans–booed and jeered the U.S. team.
The surprising scenes were followed by angry outbursts from U.S. team goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was visibly shaken after the entire post match ceremony was conducted in Spanish.
Speaking after the game, Howard said: ‘[tournament organisers] CONCACAF should be ashamed of themselves.
‘I think it was a [expletive] disgrace that the entire post match ceremony was in Spanish.
‘You can bet your ass that if we were in Mexico City, it wouldn’t be all in English.
‘It never ceases to amaze me all that stuff.’
Tempering his comments, the ex-Manchester United keeper added: ‘It was a good crowd today.
‘They were up for it, doing the wave, it was what we expected. We know it’s going to be like this.’
Speaking to the LA Times, Mexican supporter Victor Sanchez said: ‘I love this country, it has given me everything that I have, and I’m proud to be part of it.’
The 37-year-old Monrovia resident reflected the sentiment of most of the 93,000 strong crowd when he added: ‘But yet, I didn’t have a choice to come here, I was born in Mexico, and that is where my heart will always be.’
Despite the remarkable support for the Mexican side, head coach of the U.S. team Bob Bradley told reporters after the game his team was expecting the hostile crowd.
‘Obviously … the support that Mexico has on the night like tonight makes it a home game for them.
‘It’s part of something we have to deal with on the night.’
Speaking to the Times, American fan Roy Martinez was one of the few supporters present actually supporting the U.S.
He said: ‘I know, it’s strange, and when we got here, we were a little worried.
Wrapped in an American flag he led USA cheers outside the stadium, trying to gee up the home side.
The game came after it emerged this week ethnic minorities now make up the majority of babies in the United States.
It is the first time that this has been the case and the change reflects a growing age divide between mostly white, older Americans and predominantly minority youths that could reshape government policies.
Preliminary census estimates also show the share of African-American households headed by women–made up of mostly single mothers–now exceeds African-American households with married couples, a sign of declining U.S. marriages overall but also continuing challenges for black youths without involved fathers.
The findings, based on the latest government data, offer a preview of final 2010 census results being released this summer that provide detailed breakdowns by age, race and householder relationships such as same-sex couples.
Demographers say the numbers provide the clearest confirmation yet of a changing social order, one in which racial and ethnic minorities will become the U.S. majority by the middle of the century.
Currently, non-Hispanic whites make up just under half of all three-year-olds, which is the youngest age group shown in the Census Bureau’s October 2009 annual survey, its most recent.
In 1990, more than 60 per cent of children in that age group were white.
Long after the game finished Mexico supporters remained, bouncing up and down as they chanted and cheered for their team.
The American’s were not even spared in the trophy ceremony after Mexico’s 4-2 win–booed for one final time as they were announced as runners up.
Speaking after the game, another fan summed up the mood for many American-Mexican fans.
He said: ‘We’re not booing the country, we’re booing the team.
‘There is a big difference.’
Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2011
It was imperfectly odd. It was strangely unsettling. It was uniquely American.
On a balmy early Saturday summer evening, the U.S soccer team played for a prestigious championship in a U.S. stadium … and was smothered in boos.
Its fans were vastly outnumbered. Its goalkeeper was bathed in a chanted obscenity. Even its national anthem was filled with the blowing of air horns and bouncing of beach balls.
Most of these hostile visitors didn’t live in another country. Most, in fact, were not visitors at all, many of them being U.S. residents whose lives are here but whose sporting souls remain elsewhere.
Even when the U.S. scored the first two goals, the Mexico cheers stayed strong, perhaps inspiring El Tri to four consecutive goals against a U.S. team that seemed dazed and confused. Then when it ended, and the Mexican players had danced across the center of the field in giddy wonder while the U.S. players had staggered to the sidelines in disillusionment, the madness continued.
Because nobody left. Rather amazingly, the Mexico fans kept bouncing and cheering under headbands and sombreros, nobody moving an inch, the giant Rose Bowl jammed for a postgame trophy ceremony for perhaps the first time in its history.
And, yes, when the U.S. team was announced one final time, it was once again booed.
“I know, it’s strange, and when we got here, we were a little worried,” said Roy Martinez, a U.S. fan who wrapped himself in an American flag and led “USA” cheers to passing cars outside the stadium before the game. “But, you know, it works.”
It was truly strange but, in the end, it indeed worked, perhaps because there is pride in living in one of the only countries where it could work.
How many places are so diverse that it could fill football stadiums with folks whose roots are somewhere else? How many places offer such a freedom of speech that someone can display an American flag on their porch one day and cheer against the flag the next?
I hated it, but I loved it. I was felt as if I was in a strange place, and yet I felt right at home.