Mexico opener marred by alleged racism & injury

Mexico’s start to their 2021 Gold Cup campaign proved less than ideal, with a poor 0-0 draw with Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday night made even worse by alleged racist chanting in the stands and a serious injury to winger Hirving Lozano

The reigning champions entered the match expecting a big win, before walking away with a disappointing goalless draw. Despite 30 shots and seven on target, the North American nation could not get the ball past Trinidadian goalkeeper Marvin Phillip. 

Mexico split their roster between the Gold Cup and the Tokyo Olympics, forcing a shallow bench. With few options at his disposal, head coach Tata Martino suffered another blow as Lozano was ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

The Napoli striker came off worse in a brutal collision with Phillip, forcing the player to be carried off the pitch on a stretcher before being rushed for hospital treatment on a cut to his eyebrow and neck hyper-extension.

It has since been confirmed that Lozano has been discharged from hospital and is recovering at a hotel in Dallas, although his injuries will keep him out for four to six weeks.

“From the bench, you couldn’t tell what was wrong and we were visibly concerned with the situation and what was going on with him. We all thought something had happened that critically impacted his health,” auxiliary coach Jorge Theiler – who took over from Martino as he serves his Nations League suspension – stated after the match.

“We never give an opinion over the officiating. That is up to you [the press] to make that assumption. But all the players need to be protected. That’s what VAR is for. I don’t know what it is there for if they aren’t going to use it.”

He added: “Right now, we are solely focusing on Chucky’s health. That’s the priority right now. Not Chucky the footballer but Chucky the person.”

Mexico’s problems do not end there, however. Trinidad and Tobago have filed an official complaint to CONCACAF over alleged racism and threats made by their opponent’s support.

According to Futmex Nation, there was tension as play was stopped at the 85th minute after chants were clearly heard a second time. Hector Herrera, one of the standout players of the match who did well to control the midfield despite all these adjustments, visibly implored the fans in the stands to stop.

However, it was heard again in the 93rd minute when a Rogelio Funes Mori goal was called offside and no review was made, forcing the match to be stopped again in the 94th minute of play, with an announcement projected on the screens and fans loudly jeering the warnings. A final stadium-wide chant was heard very audibly just before the final whistle, an abhorrent end to a clearly frustrating night.

In a statement posted on social media, the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association said: “The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association strongly condemns the discriminatory actions, racist comments and threatening messages directed at our players, staff, supporters and country following the Senior Men’s National Team 0-0 result versus Mexico on 10th July 2021.

“Discrimination and racism have no part in our game and our society.”

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