In Mexico, soccer is one of the most popular sports since the 1990s, when it became pro. The first Mexican club, Pachuca CF, still exists and is part of the "Primera División" (First Division), popularly known as MX League, but, for sponsorship reasons, is now commercially referred as BBVA Bancomer MX League since 2013. This is the main football competition in Mexico, also considered the strongest in North America and one of the most emblematic in Latin America.
In the championship, after all the teams play against each other, the top eight play a knockout, called "Liguilla". Moreover, the relegation zone is suspended this season, considering that the idea is to reshape football in Mexico, to promote clubs to the national elite. The last team in the table will retain its place in the first division but must make an economic contribution, which will be used for the benefit of both divisions.
The current champion is the UANL Tigers, who have won their seventh title. But the clubs with the highest numbers of titles in the competition are CF América and Chivas, both with 12 titles each.
In recent years, Mexican football has become a profitable and promising business, with powerful investors such as Grupo Televisa, Mexico's largest television network, which owns the América team; and telephone mogul Carlos Slim, named one of the richest men in the world - according to Forbes - owner of León and Pachuca, in addition to the access league club Mineros de Zapatecas. TV Azteca, another powerful network in the country, owns Morelia and Atlas.
Unlike Brazil, where soccer teams are sports associations, Mexican clubs have adopted a management model similar to the United States League, and are composed of companies or multi-ownership franchises, which owners may have more than one club, even though they dispute with each other. This means too much leadership interference in federation decisions and conflicts of interest, but, on the other hand, a great amount of money for hiring players from other markets, including the European ones.
While Brazilian clubs tend to concentrate their investments on local reinforcements (or at most in athletes from neighboring countries), Mexico, which has produced few star players and today has several of its national team players in the Major League Soccer (United States) or small teams in Europe, is required to diversify the nationality of their hires. Over the past five years, according to The Guardian newspaper, Mexican teams have invested US$ 1.5 Billion in signings, 26% more than the total spent by Brazilian clubs.
In the 2019/20 season, there are 510 players registered in the MX League, and 199 of these, are from countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Spain and the United States of America, with a total market value of 769.20 Millions of Euros. Due to the geography and investment model of local clubs, Mexico is one of the Latin American countries with more players from different continents; Also, the negotiation of these athletes also involves large amounts.
The country, that will host the World Cup in 2026, has at least 10 newly built or refurbished arenas, including the Azteca Stadium and the luxurious BBVA Bancomer Stadium, which opened in 2015. The stands are hardly ever empty. With an occupancy rate of around 50%, the MX League has an average audience of 23275 fans per game. It is the sixth-largest League in the world, behind the national championships of Germany, England, Spain, Italy, and China. This data is quite representative, since fans have access to the English broadcasts of 46 games through the social network Facebook, in partnership with the Univisión channel.
Mexico is known for its dramatic soap operas and mimics the art in football. A few time ago, a protest about unpaid salary and the failure to communicate with rivals, generated unusual scenes in the MX League. Veracruz Red Shark players decided to cross their arms on the pitch for three minutes at the start of the home game against Tigers to pressure leaders to pay their salaries. But, the rivals only waited a minute and then scored two goals without any marking - which ended up guaranteeing a 3-1 win. After the match, Tigres defender Jesús Dueñas told a news conference that he and Luis Chaka Rodríguez received threats and offensive messages from fans.
When it seemed that Veracruz was the most serious issue of the 2019/20 Mexican season, the fans of Atletico San Luis and Querétaro waged a widespread fight in the stands, which ended with several injured people during the match.
In addition to the episodes mentioned, the mood is also tense on the boards of the clubs. Eight coaches were fired at the current MX League tournament, one of them, Gustavo Matosas, is accused of corruption for receiving money for hiring players. Behind the scenes of Mexican football, there are still discussions about broadcasting rights, drug cartels, players who abuse social networks and even manipulation of the results. Is the big villain the management model or the "internationalization"?
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