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FMF

Fans finally show support for Mexico against Honduras after Panama boycott

The fans, after boycotting the game against Panama, returned in their huge numbers to watch the team play Honduras.

Update:
The fans, after boycotting the game against Panama, returned in their huge numbers to watch the team play Honduras.
MARK FELIXAFP

It was not even twenty minutes in, and already fans were making the stadium look like a giant version of Whack a Mole, with various heads bobbing up and down across the stands in an attempt to get a wave going. I’m not sure if it’s known as a Mexican wave in Mexico, but given the enthusiasm and exemplary coordination at the NRG Stadium in Texas, the fans of el Tri definitely showed why the rest of the world names it after them.

The frequent bobbing was not the only sign of a party: masks, flags, hats, banners, shirts and scarves were all present and waving wildly throughout the Gold Cup opener against Honduras, with songs breaking down only for the noise void to be filled with cheers and smiles. And it only took a minute for one of those cheers to come roaring through as Romo put Jimmy Lozano’s sort-of-new-look Mexico side ahead against the Central American opponents, with the second coming twenty minutes later to see Mexico zoom to the top of their Gold Cup group.

Mexico's supporters cheer during the Concacaf 2023 Gold Cup Group B football match between Mexico and Honduras at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on June 25, 2023. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP)
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Mexico's supporters cheer during the Concacaf 2023 Gold Cup Group B football match between Mexico and Honduras at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on June 25, 2023. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP)MARK FELIXAFP

Mexican football has suffered while US football has grown

Match-going football fans can be fickle and stubborn and just plain wrong, but they are unconditionally supportive when a positive project is placed in front of them. Something about Diego Cocca’s reign as head of El Tri seemed a bit directionless; the long wait to name the manager coupled with the subsequently stodgy style should never have been the thing to come after a disappointing World Cup exit under Tata Martino. Add to that the rapid rise of and devastating defeat to the USMNT, who have made their claim as Concacaf’s best side, and you’ve got a perfect potion of football fan fury.

Jaime Lozano is only 7 years younger than Diego Cocca but looks fresh-faced and smiley instead of grizzled and serious, choosing to shave his 5 o’clock shadow and not letting it look like sandpaper scraping away at his lower jaw. Nobody could have ever imagined putting a whoopie cushion under Edson Álvarez’s chair on the bus during Cocca’s time at the helm, and that’s not to say that there was any sort of dissent or ill-feeling, just a stark lack of laughter, which is what Mexico are normally good at.

Romo got two goals to put Mexico in the driving seat vs Honduras.
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Romo got two goals to put Mexico in the driving seat vs Honduras.MARK FELIXAFP

Mexico fans might just be seeing the light

Santi Giménez and Edson himself both came out within a week of each other with juxtaposing messages on the sad situation, with the former saying the USMNT defeat was “a reality check” while Edson claimed just days later that there was “no patience” from the fans or journalists.

All it takes is one small change in the world of uncertainty to give the hope back, and now that the FMF have acted, maybe Mexico can put on a show that the fans can be proud of watching. The boycott against Panama from the people was unprecedented from a fanbase that are known to travel in numbers and make their voices, colours and team heard all across the world. Now, with Lozano at the helm, things look to be going, once again, in the right direction. Mexico can finally think about planning the party both on and off the pitch.