“I feel guilty that I am paying more attention to soccer than current issues,” said Dulce López, 22, who immigrated from Mexico and is a strong supporter of Dreamers and their efforts to seek legal status in the U.S.
Michaela Casemiro, 53, an employee at the Doña Maty restaurant, said she doesn’t like what’s happening “with kids” at the border.
“It’s ugly, it’s not just,” said Casemiro. “But it’s a beautiful thing to see Mexico in the World Cup. I pray to god that Mexico continues in the games. It’s my favorite thing seeing us at such a high stage.”
For the first time since 1986, the U.S. Men’s National Team is absent from the World Cup, leaving 325 million Americans divided over who to cheer on.
Despite a longtime soccer rivalry and political tensions between the U.S. and Mexico, some Americans have decided to cheer on their southern neighbors.
James and Melissa Goodwin, along with their two small children, were walking through midtown Manhattan when they heard fans jumping out of their seats at the “El Sombrero” restaurant. They decided to go in and support the Mexican team.
“Well, the U.S. isn’t playing, so I thought, let’s root for Mexico since they’re our neighbor,” said James.
“Both of our kids play soccer and all of their teammates are Mexican. We are rooting for them,” added Melissa.
But the Georgia couple aren’t the only Americans rooting for Mexico.
Former U.S. men’s national team forward star Landon Donovan, 35, faced backlash after starring in a Wells Fargo ad campaign airing during the World Cup saying “Vamos México” and urging American soccer fans to support “our neighbors to the south.”
After receiving negative reactions from soccer fans and players alike, Donovan took to Twitter to explain his actions.
“Since the USMNT sadly is not participating in the 2018 World Cup, I am supportive of our CONCACAF rivals and would like to see them do well. If others disagree that is their prerogative… I believe in supporting each other and building bridges, not barriers,” posted Donovan on Twitter.