January 21, 2013


Xolos' winning ways attract soccer fans north and south (Kevin Baxter, January 20, 2013, LA Times)

When Bob Filner was sworn in as mayor of San Diego last month, he delivered part of his inauguration speech in Spanish.

Apparently you don't become a 10-term congressman or mayor of the country's eighth-largest city without knowing your audience. And while some parts of the U.S.-Mexico border have more cultural tension--such as Arizona--residents living on both sides of the San Diego-Tijuana boundary tend to see the area as one region rather than two countries.

It's a region that now has a championship soccer team in the Xoloitzcuintles of Tijuana, which won the Mexican first division title the day before Filner took office.

"The virtue of having una region y dos ciudades is when our guys are not doing well -- like the Chargers -- we have champions," Filner, switching from English to Spanish and back again, told the soccer team during its visit to San Diego three weeks later. "So you're our champions also.... Everyone in San Diego is following you."

Don't believe him? Just check the dirt parking lot surrounding the Xoloitzcuintles' new 23,000-seat stadium. Many of those who came to last weekend's 2013 home opener arrived in cars with California plates, supporting team estimates that one-third of its fan base lives in the U.S. and as many as 5,000 people regularly cross the border for games.

"It's the nature of both cities," says assistant general manager Roberto Cornejo, who, like many fans, lives in San Diego. "They're sister cities crossed by the border. And something like sports especially -- and soccer even more -- transcends that border.

"You get fans from both countries, from both cultures, uniting and celebrating."

Posted by at January 21, 2013 8:14 PM

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