News Matches

Chicharito, Miguel Layun lead charge as soccer world supports Mexico after earthquake

4:05 PM EDT 9/21/17
Chicharito Mexico Confederations Cup
The El Tri stars started an initiative to aid relief efforts and were hardly alone as Mexico's soccer community has mobilized to help

Sports seem silly after something like Tuesday's earthquake in central Mexico.

The 7.1 magnitude temblor resulted in more than 200 deaths across the capital, Puebla and Morelos. It damaged so many structures we won't have an account of damage for days, maybe weeks. Earlier the day of the quake, we were laughing about Cuauhtemoc Blanco's continued beef with Club America and thinking about a pair of upcoming rivalry games in the cup.

Those games are postponed but will go on in October , but even thinking about that seemed out of place. People have lost their homes or are hurt. Worse still some have lost lives or their loved ones. Who cares about soccer?

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, it wasn't clear where those far from central Mexico but wanting to help financially or materially could do so. Athletes, actors and other public figures put out pleas on social media asking where they should direct their (likely considerable) resources. Good options, like the  Topos de Tlatelolco  who were formed in the aftermath of a similar earthquake 32 years to the day before Tuesday's, soon emerged.

Yet a tragedy like the earthquake will require far more organization and accountability than sending money into one Paypal account can afford. It also will take all the attention it can get. Two days after the quake urgent pleas are still being posted on Twitter about affected areas where rescue workers or supplies are needed. That's why an effort like the one launched by Mexican national team players Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and defender Miguel Layun  is welcome.

It's no coincidence Chicharito and Layun are using the same giving platform Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt used for his campaign after hurricane Harvey. Watt's followers stunned the community by surpassing even the most ambitious goals and raising more than $37 million. Chicharito was thrilled to meet Watt prior to Mexico's Copa America Centenario game at Houston's NRG Stadium in 2016. Now the bond they've formed has taken on a more serious tone but one for the good with the forward able to observe best practices for using his considerable platform to aid those in need after disaster hit his own home region.

Chicharito and Layun aren't the only athletes who have rushed to help. Players based in Mexico City, including America's Edson Alvarez and Alejandro "Guero" Diaz and Pumas' Gerardo Alcoba, assisted in collecting items Wednesday. Former players like Santos Laguna's Marc Crosas and Tijuana's Yasser Corona took up similar causes in their respective cities. Javier Aquino leapt into action to aid his home state of Oaxaca when it and neighboring Chiapas were affected by a different quake earlier this month. He and his Tigres teammates have again been active in organization this week.

The list goes on and on. You could fill pages and pages with examples of players and teams both within Mexico and abroad who are helping. That's heartening to see.

Sometimes sports can be a bubble, but that gets popped by real-life tragedy. In the video encouraging people to donate, Chicharito notes that while many people see him and his Mexican national team teammates as a source of inspiration, he's taken inspiration from seeing Mexicans flood the streets to help their neighbors. As the 29-year-old knows, that doesn't preclude the national team. Mexicans playing soccer abroad would've been there next to their neighbors and teammates had they been in the affected area. You probably would have too. Maybe you were. But there's only so much you can do from abroad, and much of it involves figuring out the best use of your resources, then making sure those resources arrive. There is an enormous need, and Mexico's soccer community has stepped up to fill it.

Disaster and tragedy can make soccer seem silly, but like any other aspect of culture be it art, music, film or cooking, the sport is our way of expressing who we are. Mexico's soccer players and those around the world are showing who they are, responding to tragedy by making sure their words of support are followed up by action.