Sex, drugs and... don't forget the football, Mexico
Rafael Marquez and Javier Hernandez (Getty Images)
Mexico City - Between
the orgy accusations and the drug-trafficking charges facing their veteran
star, Mexico have had their share of distractions heading into their World Cup
opener against Germany on Sunday.
The headaches started
last year when the US Treasury Department accused El Tri's longtime captain,
Rafael Marquez, of being a "front person" for an international
And they got worse on
June 5, when gossip magazine TVNotas reported that nine members of Mexico's
World Cup squad had an all-night party with a group of 30 prostitutes after
their farewell home match that weekend.
The Mexican Football
Federation decided against punishing the players, because "they have not
missed training" and "a free day is a free day," in the words of
general secretary Guillermo Cantu.
But the public
condemnation and online mockery have been blistering.
doesn't have to punish the party-boy players. The public and private ridicule
will be more than enough," sports journalist David Faitelson of ESPN wrote
As the scandal
swirled, midfielder Hector Herrera asked for a leave of absence from training
in Denmark to travel to Portugal, where he is based, and tend to "personal
matters," according to media reports.
Trying to calm the
storm, star striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez posted a video
online that he said proved the team "didn't do anything bad" --
though he admitted, "I don't think we'd do it again."
The controversy echoes
similar scandals around the team in recent years.
In September 2010,
Mexico players had an all-night party in their hotel with unidentified women
after a friendly.
On that occasion, the
federation fined 11 players and slapped six-month suspensions on defender
Efrain Juarez and forward Carlos Vela.
In June 2011, before a
trip to Argentina for the Copa America, Mexican players hired sex workers in a
hotel in Quito, Ecuador. They were fined and suspended from the team for half a
The latest chapter has
particularly outraged some die-hard fans, who worry the scandal will distract
the team going into their high-stakes opening match against the world
"The scandal will
affect the family life of those involved, their relationships with their teammates
and their performance at the World Cup," said Mexican writer Juan Villoro
in a scathing newspaper column entitled "Locker-room anthropology."
Other fans take the
view that in football, as in love, it is best to forgive and forget.
"I'm with my
Mexico, just like during every World Cup," said Alfonso Avila, a
"I hope when the
team starts delivering results that all those people who criticized them aren't
going to try to jump on the bandwagon."
So, will El Tri be
distracted by the noise?
AFP asked veterans of
the Mexican national team to weigh in.
"I think it will
distract them, and I think a lot of the players will have family
problems," said Manuel Negrete, a member of Mexico's 1986 World Cup squad.
"They need to be
extremely concentrated on the one-on-one against Germany."
But there is nothing
new in footballers behaving badly, said 89-year-old Antonio "Tota"
Carbajal, a five-time World Cup veteran.
"This isn't the
first team to go through this. I went through it myself," he said,
recalling an incident from the 1966 World Cup in England, when two players
snuck out of training camp to go to a bar -- and coach Ignacio Trelles followed
them to drag them back.
This year's squad
"did a stupid thing, you can't deny it," he said.
"But these things
unite the team."
The bigger problem may
be longtime leader Marquez's legal woes.
Marquez, who was the
team captain for years, is playing in his fifth World Cup, and coach Juan
Carlos Osorio says he is counting on his leadership.
But the 39-year-old
arrives in Russia under the cloud of an ongoing drug trafficking investigation
that cost him sponsors and forced him to take a nearly three-month break from
football last year to focus on his legal defense.
"He's a guy whose
leadership will be very necessary at the World Cup," said former national
team member Joaquin Beltran.