By Andrea Canales
Machismo is defined as exaggerated pride in masculinity, perceived as power, often coupled
with a minimal sense of responsibility and disregard of consequences.
In machismo there is supreme valuation of characteristics culturally
associated with the masculine, stressing attributes
such as physical courage, virility, domination and
In some ways, machismo seems like an ideal ingredient for success in
sport, especially one as demanding as soccer, with no timeouts or
in-and-out substitutions, but that overlooks the "minimal sense of
responsibility and disregard of consequences" part.
It's likely that machismo played a role in the actions of Mexico's
Rafael Marquez in the recent game versus the United States. After all,
it's not as if the captain offered a better explanation on his own.
"My desire always is to win and perhaps when we don't, I don't know
what to do and that is what causes me to do this," said Marquez in his
The problem is that if Marquez really wants to be victorious, he has made it more
difficult for his beloved El Tri to achieve that, as the red card he
earned with his back-kick cleating of U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard now
leaves him out of Mexico's next qualifying game.
For that matter, the loss of temper that Marquez displayed was not an
isolated incident for the Mexican squad. Who knows what the team that
confronted the U.S. in Columbus might have been capable of if veteran
midfielder Gerardo Torrado or talented young forward Carlos Vela had
been able to play. Sadly for Mexico, they were both sidelined due to foolish
cards earned in a previous loss versus Honduras.
It's not as if the U.S. team is unaware of the cost of an untimely card
- red ones played an important role, both for and against the squad in
their disappointing 2006 World Cup participation. The show of
emotion by Howard, heaving the ball away after the incident with
Marquez, did get him a yellow that, due to accumulation, will cause
him to miss the next match versus El Salvador.
Yet Howard didn't do anything that would take him out of the match being played,
whereas Marquez doomed his team while the game and a vital point was
still within reach.
The problem on a deeper level is that fans are often inclined to
forgive anything done with the justification of strong feeling behind
it. Because they care so much about the outcome, it is comforting in a
sense to know that players feel the same way. It creates something of a
bond. Yet uncontrolled emotion doesn't really show loyalty at all. It
is more of a traitor to what fans actually want, which is the success
of their team.
The mentality of machismo doesn't really allow for a gracious loss -
and as previously defined, doesn't lend itself to thinking ahead in any
In a way, what Marquez did in Ohio was worse than his infamous headbutt
of Cobi Jones at the 2002 World Cup. There are a pair of key reasons
for this - first of all, with two minutes left in the game, it was
unlikely that Mexico was going to come back from two goals down, though
stranger things have happened in soccer. In the latest match, Mexico
had not only more time in the match when Marquez acted out, but also
was only down by a single goal. In a context where Mexico was creating
chances for the equalizer, it was a far more fatal blow to lose a
player than it was in 2002, no matter how bad that headbutt looked.
The second factor that made this recent red card more detrimental is
the fact that the World Cup, after the group stage, is a knockout
tournament. The suspension after the red card wasn't much of a factor.
Yet the Hexagonal round of qualifying features the toughest competition
that CONCACAF has to offer. Yes, Mexico is likely to qualify, but
missing their captain won't help that happen.
After all, Costa Rica has beaten Mexico in Azteca before. The Ticos
will be riding high on confidence after their win over Honduras in the
first round of hexagonal games and will not hesitate to go after
Mexico. At some point, the Costa Rican players might even employ as part
of their strategy attempts to goad the Mexico players into actions that
could draw more cards.
Marquez has paid lip service to having developed an increased maturity
since 2002, and perhaps his apology after the game was evidence of
that. To help Mexico reach the World Cup, however, his maturity needs
to show on the field, not his machismo.
Andrea Canales is Chief Editor of Goal.com USA