Sunday, September 20, 2020

Chivas is Overdue for Integration

As far as classicos go, it was an odd one, taking place during a pandemic, without fans. But Chivas vs Club America wasn't much of a thrilling matchup on Sept. 19, 2020. The lack of the fervent support of Chivas Guadalajara was only part of the problem. The truth is, the club hasn't been very competitive for many seasons and isn't (unlike Club America) competing regularly for titles any more. The Chivas club has an incredibly large and loyal fanbase, but their devotion isn't rewarded as it should be. The limiting policy of the nationalistic player roster is only part of the reason why. 

This blog has covered numerous times how the policy of Chivas changed over the years, but most obviously and officially, under the late Jorge Vergara, from only fielding players born IN Mexico to now fielding players born eligible for Mexican citizenship (they could be born anywhere in the world, but had to have at least one Mexican parent or grandparent). The fact that Luis and I uncovered the ruse Chivas had been using (fake birth certificates) helped make the change public. Vergara rode the idea that gringo USA reporters were somehow attacking the Chivas legacy by exposing his deception to help get everyone to accept the change. 

Now Miguel Angel Ponce and Isaac Brizuela are longtime stalwarts for the Guadalajara squad, despite their American roots. But Chivas still has a shortsighted policy in place that maintains that any dual-citizen who signs for them has to renounce ever playing with a non-Mexican national team. Frankly, such a contract clause shouldn't be legal or binding over any professional international athlete. It also either limits Chivas to signing Mexican-American players who probably aren't going to be called up by either team or limits the players who sign with the club to only playing with Mexico. 

What the nationalist approach has done in addition to build up a following for Chivas is to help keep out players of African heritage. Naturilized players, like Zinha, have featured for the Mexican national team, but not for Chivas. That's part of the reason there was a certain irony in Giovanni Dos Santos scoring the winning goal for Club America over Chivas in Liga MX action on Saturday. He's obviously Mexican and has featured internationally for El Tri many times. So why wasn't he a top option for Chivas brass to land as player instead of him going to their rivals? 

The easy answer is that Club America had more cash to splash on a player who has struggled with injuries of late. The answer fans of Chivas have to confront at some point is that it doesn't seem to be priority for the club to integrate the squad. Of course, there's something to be said for the idea that the top priority for any club should be winning, but if that was the case, why not allow all citizens of Mexico, naturalized or born eligible or eligible for other national teams or playing for other national teams, to be Chivas players? They'd still be Chivas. They'd likely attract even more fans. They'd still be an all-Mexican team, but one that's more inclusive and likely more diverse. 

No comments: