By Father Guillermo Trevino
The same day that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, All Souls Day, Nov. 2, I received an email from the U.S. Soccer Foundation that I had won a lottery to buy four tickets to the USA vs. Mexico World Cup qualifying game in Columbus, Ohio. The game would be played on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11, just three days after the presidential election. Because I had to preach at the 4 p.m. Mass at St. Alphonsus the day after the game, my sister agreed to take me to Columbus and back home after the game.
Some of my Spanish-speaking parishioners asked how I managed to get tickets. I told them there were a couple of possible reasons. First, the game is played in Columbus in a 25,000-seat small Major League soccer stadium, which limits availability of tickets. The U.S. Soccer Foundation determines who gets tickets to the game and, wanting a big home-field advantage, might give the preference to U.S. fans. The Mexican media reported that many Mexican fans were denied ticket requests. To be fair, I did win four tickets with my name, so who knows the complete accuracy of the report. Second, it is very cold in Columbus, compared with cities in Mexico, which makes the game advantageous to the U.S. team. The U.S. had never lost to Mexico and previously won every game 2-0.
With such tension, The American Outlaws, a U.S. Soccer supporter group, said on their Facebook page that no hatred of any kind would be tolerated at the game. Those who did not follow the rules would be dismissed from the group and the game. Probably the most positive part was that as the teams representing both Mexico and the United States entered the stadium, the American Outlaws sang Woody Guthrie’s song, “This land is your land, this land is my land. …” After the national anthems are played, team pictures are usually taken. But this time, in an unplanned event, both teams took the picture together, intermixed.
At the game, I wore an Our Lady of Guadalupe poncho, just to see how people would treat someone who appeared to be a Mexican fan. It was a very exciting game that Mexico won 2-1 — for the first time ever in Columbus. The U.S. fans were very kind and courteous to the Mexican fans, saying: “What a game! Congratulations!”
If these two countries, Mexico and the United States, could get along on the field, in the stands, in the most competitive environment there is, why can’t we? Yes, we may have differences of opinion, but that doesn’t mean we hate anyone. The tensions of today are because each of us thinks we are always right. Even if you are right, is it worth losing a friend, a family member or other loved one to say so? My Christmas challenge is for us to see the other side of things. Thus, we can grow in love and respect of our neighbors who are amazing people, if we take the time to know them.
(Fr. Guillermo Trevino is in solidum at St. Alphonsus and St. Mary parishes in Davenport and St. Peter Parish in Buffalo.)