Mexico Is The Most Popular Team In America Playing The World Cup

Published: Friday, June 15, 2018 - 5:19pm
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2018 - 5:36pm
Michael Nowels/Cronkite News
Mexico fans cheered loudly throughout Sunday night’s CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Guatemala, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

The most popular national team in the U.S. that is playing in the World Cup will have its first game of the tournament Sunday. It’s not the American team, which didn’t qualify, but rather the team from the neighbor to the south: Mexico.

The Tri – as Mexico’s national team is known, for the country flag’s three colors – regularly fills NFL stadiums for exhibition matches. And Telemundo, the Spanish-language broadcaster with a large Mexican and Mexican-American audience, paid $600 million for the right to broadcast the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 in the U.S., $175 million more than Fox Sports paid for the English-language rights.

But even if Mexico can be considered as America’s team in the World Cup, there’s a long-standing North American soccer rivalry between the neighboring countries. And fans in the U.S. are feverish: it’s the country where the most tickets were sold for the tournament outside of host Russia.

Avid American fans are unlikely to change their loyalty, said Kirk Bowman, a professor of soccer and global politics at Georgia Tech. It’s similar to the low likelihood that Arizona State fans would support the University of Arizona if it played the Rose Bowl Game, Bowman said.

"If they're hardcore fans, they've been in games in Denver, in Washington D.C., in Los Angeles, where the Mexican fans out-scream and out-shout the U.S. fans,” Bowman said. “That rivalry is very, very healthy."

Mexico’s next two games are scheduled June 23 and June 27.

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