Mexico looking for football boost after wretched week of news

Mexico's 1-0 win over world champions Germany was arguably the most thrilling moment of the opening round of games in Russia. But a dismal week of news at home and abroad leaves the Mexicans looking for an emotional boost on Saturday against South Korea.

By Mark Corrigan, Mexico's thrilling victory over world champions Germany in their Group F opener in Moscow on Sunday was front-page material. But the World Cup has been superceded in the headlines after a wretched week of news.
Footage of children being held in cages on the US-Mexico border after being separated from their parents has shocked the world, while on Wednesday a number of people were killed after a truck with apparently faulty brakes ploughed into a crowd of protestors in southern Mexico.
Saturday's match against South Korea should provide some escape for the news. Yet even that has been overshadowed by FIFA's decision to fine Mexico following homphobic chants by fans during the Germany game at Luzhniki Stadium.
Fans had been warned by FIFA of the consequences of shouting "Puto" - a derogatory term for a male sex worker - at last year's Confederations Cup, also held in Russia.
After the chant was wheeled out again on Sunday, football's world governing body decided to act. A fine of 10,000 Swiss francs (10,040 dollars) prompted both the Mexican football federation and the squad's players to appeal for an end to the chanting.
"To all Mexican fans in the stadiums, don't shout Puto," Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, Mexico's talisman and all-time leading goalscorer, posted on Wednesday on Instagram, though his appeal seemed more pragmatic than principled.
"Let's not risk another fine," he said.
Further oddness abounds in Mexico camp.
It was revealed this week that Rafael Marquez, the 39-year-old centre-half who is playing at his fifth World Cup, is being boycotted by the event's sponsors due to accusations that he is bound up with Mexican drug cartels.
Although he has not been charged with any crime, Marquez has been black-listed by the US treasury, the consequence of which is that American companies are terrified of having Marquez seen anywhere near their logos in case they are pursued for hefty fines by the US government.
The veteran trains in a tracksuit devoid of sponsors and was escorted smartly from the field at the end of the Germany game for fear that he would be snapped in front of a Budweiser sign or similar.
The players will be annoyed that the "Puto" affair and the circus surrounding Marquez have overshadowed their performance against Germany.
Rarely has a reigning world champion been filleted as comprehensively as Germany were in the first half by Mexico, to the point that Jogi Loew's men could have gone in at half-time three goals down without cause for complaint.
A similar performance in Rostov-on-Don on Saturday would surely seal a win over South Korea, a result that would put Mexico on six points after two games.
With Sweden up last, it would give Mexico a huge chance of qualifying for the last 16 as group winners, thereby avoiding a likely clash with Brazil.
More importantly, three points would provide the boost for which Mexican fans are desperate after a trying week both at home and in Russia.

Friday, June 22nd 2018
By Mark Corrigan,

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