Fans say football, with the economic and security issues they face at home, is a “stress reliever.”
Doha, Qatar – Mexico’s team is not the favorite for this year’s World Cup, but their fans don’t seem to mind.
“We dream with football, we eat with football,” says Omar Soriano, 32, who is from Toluco, Mexico. “Here we are all united to support the national team…that’s what our players need…to know we’re behind them.”
With their sombreros, palm straw hats, Lucha Libre masks and Mariachi shoes, thousands of die-hard fans of El Tri are making their mark not only here at Lusail Stadium, but all over Doha.
Some had their faces painted with the “La Catrina”, a skeletal image representing what has become a symbol of one of Mexico’s most famous festivals known as the Day of the Dead parade.
“Football is a stress reliever for Mexicans back home…rich, poor, male or female, football brings us together,” Soriano told Al Jazeera.
At the famous Souq Waqif market, it has become routine to see hundreds of Mexican fans sing and dance as spectators cheer them on and join in the fun, a similar spectacle seen at the stadium today.
Soriano explained that Mexicans are eager for the “rest of the world” to experience and pass on their own culture.
“We are a very diverse nation with many ethnicities … we are very proud of our culture,” he said. ‘At home you don’t see us in all those local clothes. But here we want to promote who Mexicans are. We want to be ambassadors.”
Abel Costa, 61, told Al Jazeera that exiting the group stage would be a “massive victory” for Mexico and a boost to a country facing difficult economic and security challenges.
“People at home have so little… There is a lot of poverty and violence. People are trying to make it day by day,” said Costa, who traveled to Doha with several male members of his family.
“Football takes their mind off all the problems they have,” he said, adding that if Mexico wins a game in the tournament, “it will be a big party in the street.”
On Saturday-evening, Mexico faced Argentina, a team that has never defeated it in a World Cup tournament. But for the fans, this fact hardly matters.
“The pressure is all on Argentina. They need it more than we do… yes, we definitely need to win, but they are more nervous,” said Costa.