The spiritual immigration of Mexicans to South Korea


The spiritual immigration of Mexicans to South Korea

By: Jonny Rico
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Your team wins the first two matches of a World Cup. One of them against the reigning World Cup champion and yet you arrive to the final group stage match not having secured a knockout stage qualification.

This doesn’t happen too often. But it happen to Mexico.

Nothing but nervousness could be felt since Saturday, the day Mexico beat South Korea 2-1 and Germany found a miracle winner in stoppage time. A Germany loss or draw against Sweden would’ve guaranteed Mexico a spot in the Round of 16, but luck was not on Mexico’s side on Saturday.  

There was plenty of reasons to be optimistic. A win or a draw for Mexico guaranteed a first place finish in Group F. Mexico had the opportunity to make history, as it has never been able to win all three group stage games of a World Cup. Mexico came in having played high quality football in its opening two matches, meaning a win or draw were very likely.

But that bad luck aroma is what stuck after Saturday’s matches.

The San Diego bar planned for a big Mexico party on Wednesday morning, never did they imagine it would be a Korean party.

The back room of the bar has eight booths along the perimeter of the walls, six smaller tables in the middle of the floor and four TVs on the walls. Mexico vs Sweden would be shown on the two central TVs that are hooked up to the main sound system of the bar. The two other TVs off to the side would silently show the South Korea vs Germany match.

Both games kicked off and within seconds the referee showed Mexico’s Jesus Gallardo a yellow card. Another bad sign. The pessimism was deep within the gut, hard to shake off. The referee again added to this by calling a handball on goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa claiming he handled the ball outside of the box. A bad call and another bad sign.

A possible handball by Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez inside of the Mexico box was waived off but then the decision was to be reviewed by the referee on the on field VAR screens. Not a single Mexican in the bar was able to take a breath. A penalty would surely be awarded to Sweden, referees don’t go over to the monitors unless they are close to overturning the original decision. The referee returned and confirmed his decision, no penalty!

But despite avoiding disaster, the feeling was not a good one. Did Mexico use their one piece of good luck in the day?     

The first Sweden goal went in. Ochoa had gotten a block but it was not enough to prevent the point-blank shot from going in. It sucks having your pessimistic feeling confirmed.

A few eyes started to wander in the direction of the two silent TVs. One lady who had gone unnoticed up until now, stood in a corner of the bar watching the silent TV cheering on Germany.

Over in the Mexico match, the referee awarded a penalty to Sweden. The play looked like a clean tackle (at least to us) by Hector Moreno to every Mexican in the bar. Our last fading hope was that VAR officials would ask the referee to review the play and possibly over turn it. No such luck. Mexico had already used their one lucky VAR call in the first half. The penalty was converted and the deficit was now two goals for Mexico.

More eyes were now turning to the silent TVs in the bar and they were staying there longer with each passing minute. The lady cheering for Germany who had begun the morning as the only person watching the silent TV now had a bar-full of fans cheering against her.

A third goal goes in for Sweden, a Mexico own-goal at that! Lady luck and Mister Destiny were never going to allow Mexico to win this match.

And all of a sudden whether or not Mexico scored a goal became irrelevant. The bar-full of Mexican supporters were now chanting “KOREA! KOREA! KOREA!”

A sigh of relief blew every time a German shot went over the bar. Excitement flew every time South Korea would dribble up the field in a counter attack.

The 0-0 draw in that match would be enough to save Mexico from an embarrassing elimination. But Mexicans did not trust Lady Luck or Mister Destiny to hold that 0-0 against the world champions. Mexicans wanted a Korean goal.

Mexico kept getting frustrated by the Swedish defense, but the Mexican fans were still able to scream GOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLL. South Korea found the back of the net but it was called offside. But the VAR option still loomed in the air. Mexico and Mexican fans were now dependant on the luck of the Koreans and not their own.

Lady Luck and Mister Destiny were a lot nicer to Korea than they were to Mexico. The no-goal call was overturned by VAR officials and South Korea were now leading against Germany, securing a spot for Mexico in the next round.

The goal sealed the deal. The second Korean goal was icing on the cake, It was to allow Mexican fans to catch their nervous breaths.

Celebrations followed both final whistles. Mexicans celebrated as if they had won the match and not lost 3-0. But the gratefulness was not missing. In Mexico City fans surrounded the South Korea embassy to celebrate and thank the Asian nation. South Korean supporters were thrown onto the shoulders of Mexican fans a hailed as heroes.

Wednesday morning 120 million Mexicans spiritually emigrated to South Korea,


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