As most of our readers, and listeners to the Major League Soccer Talk podcast know, I spent last week vacationing in Mexico. It was an exciting time to be south of the border with the finals of the Gold Cup and the start of group play in Copa America. While in Mexico, I was able to purchase several Football related magazines and watch several matches on live television.
For the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, I watched the match as a restaurant patroned almost exclusively by locals. The owner of the restaurant brought in a big screen to project the match from the satellite on. Televisa, Mexico’s largest TV network and BSkyB, (Sky from the UK) have a joint satellite venture known as Sky, which broadcast extensive pre-match coverage (starting three hours before match time) dissecting every possible match-up between the USA and Mexico. One thing I learned in the pre match show was that Landon Donovan’s Spanish was impeccable enough for him to actually translate his team-mates thoughts to the Televisa reporters. (Including the thoughts of Carlos Bocanegra who is of Mexican heritage, but who obviously spoke little or no Spanish.) They also showed a nice historic program highlighting all the big matches and goals in previous USA-Mexico matches.
During the match replays and graphics were to put it kindly, much more timely and pertinent that the coverage the rest of you were seeing on Fox Soccer Channel or even on Univision. The Televisa broadcast was of the highest quality and the post game coverage with lasted an hour included both coaches press conferences (Where Bob Bradley’s poor Spanish was again partially interpreted by Donovan), and an extensive look at the key point of the match.
The coverage of both Copa America matches I watched while in Mexico (Mexico-Brazil, USA-Argentina) on Televisa featured far less pre game coverage but again crisp production, timely replays and outstanding analysis of what was happening in the match. Sure, they don’t have Ray Hudson, but watching the Copa there was still an experience.
Several of the Mexican Football magazines I purchased were also interesting. I bought magazines put out by several of the big clubs in the Clausura (Club America, Chivas, and Cruz Azul) and all three amounted to propaganda about the clubs. But the two magazines I bought that were periodicals covering more than a single club had lots of coverage of Gold Cup, Copa America, the end of the La Liga season, and even some coverage of MLS. (including an interview of Don Garber in one of the magazines.) Obviously the focus of the publications was the Mexican National Team, the Mexican Leagues and places abroad where Mexicans play. However, I was still shocked to see zero coverage whatsoever of the Premiership. It was as if the English league, and mega clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool don’t even exist. Even though to my knowledge no Mexicans play in Serie A, Italian Football was mentioned in both of these magazines even if just in passing.
The lack of coverage or even recognition of the Premiership may also explain why I had so many encounters with people supporting Alexi Lalas comments about the Premiership. Many of these same Mexicans told me that Landon Donovan is the best player the USA has ever produced and he’s the sole reason the US has advanced in world football, and since he plays in the US domestic league, that is further proof that the EPL is a sham and that the US market should reject it. Instead of arguing with the people who held these views I probed them further and found a general resentment of the influence the English media and European nations in general have over world football. I must say it was a fascinating lesson for me.