Americans Soccer-Smack Mexicans — Voodoo Strategy Doesn't Stick
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As I've been pointing out, the competition between the American and Mexican national soccer teams is fierce, to say the least. The long-standing enmity between the countries shows up in open hostility on the field and in the stands.

There was another match-up last Wednesday in Columbus as part of the qualifying rounds for the World Cup. Mexicans had their sombreros spinning with excitement over the possibility of beating the hated gringos. But no such luck — the American team won, 2-0, followed by some unsportsman-like conduct on the part of a Mexican assistant coach. [Slap could get Mexico assistant in trouble, San Diego Union Tribune, Feb 14, 2009]

The already bitter U.S.-Mexico soccer rivalry got a little more caliente with a slapping incident outside the locker rooms after Wednesday night's World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Ohio.

A camera for Spanish-language TV network Univision captured the altercation as players left the field at Crew Stadium after the United States' 2-0 win. The Americans extended their unbeaten streak against Mexico on U.S. soil to 11 games by a combined score of 19-3.

Veteran U.S. defender Frankie Hejduk, a San Dieguito High alum, is seen walking with his jersey off (he had thrown it into the stands) when Mexico assistant coach Paco Ramirez steps in front of him, accosts him verbally and then slaps him across the face with his left hand. Hejduk's head jerks to the left, and players and staff jump in to push Ramirez away.

Whoa, that sounds like assault to me.

Further up in the stands, the Mexican fans must have been disappointed at the loss, in particular that their special voodoo magic didn't work out as hoped. Fort Worth-based Radio Shack had sponsored an anti-American voodoo doll promotion a couple weeks ago (Radio Shack Drinks Mexican Soccer Kool-Aid) but thought better of the scheme after US anger was shaping up. The idea was for Mexican soccer fans to take a coupon to a store that would get them an American soccer player doll to torture with pins.

After Radio Shack sensibly bailed on the project, Blockbuster moved in: Mexico voodoo promo gets new partner, Blockbuster [Boston Globe, Feb 6, 209].

MEXICO CITY - After Radioshack dropped out, a Mexican newspaper has found a new U.S. corporate sponsor to help put a voodoo hex on the U.S. national soccer team — and end Mexico's decade-long losing streak.

Blockbuster stores in Mexico City began trading Record newspaper coupons for voodoo-doll likenesses of U.S. soccer players Friday. The back of the dolls' jersey reads, "Gringos." [...]

"Hold a needle firmly between your thumb and index finger and prick slowly the part of the doll where you want to affect the opponent," the instructions say.

(You can contact Blockbuster Inc. Corporate Communications in Dallas at 214-854-3190 or [email protected]).

Below, some of the Mexican crowd in Columbus giving the traditional salute during the Feb 13 soccer match. Click here for a slide show of the event.

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