A Sporting Oasis in the Urban Vietnam

I know I’ve said before that I’d watch the Mets in an active volcano if that’s where they played, but I have limits to what I’d risk to see my favorite team in person. For instance, if I don’t think I’d go out to Flushing if there was a chance I’d get my head cut off.

That, apparently, is the risk run by fans of the Indios, a soccer team from Ciudad Juarez, a border town where drug-related gang violence has reached Robocop-levels of insanity. A story in yesterday’s New York Times details how the city’s residents have rallied around the team, despite the insane danger they face simply by leaving the house:

But the lurid headlines, the murder of the deputy police chief and the threats to decapitate the mayor [!] have not deterred soccer fans, at least on game days.

But the players are probably insulated from the such insanities. Hey, they’re celebrities, right? Well…

Andrés Chitiva, a native of Colombia, was released in December,
partly because he played poorly, partly because he was shaken by a menacing phone call, team officials said. “He got scared,” said Francisco Ibarra Molina, the team president. “They wanted money or they would kidnap his kids.”

Needless to say, these conditions make it difficult for the team to attract star players, or get a bigger stadium built. I imagine the mayor’s got bigger issues on his mind than building a new arena, like not getting his head lopped off.

Would you go to any event in a city like this? Would you even live in such a place, if you
had any choice?

And yet, according to the article, the Indios pretty much sell out their games, and no incidents erupt during the games. Of course, once the matches end, it’s back to business as usual–which, in Juarez, means over 2000 murders in the last 14 months.

Think about that the next time you wanna complain about $15 parking fees and $7 beers.