Sunday, November 28

Tokyo 2020: Uniforms, nationalism and xenophobia: the controversy surrounding Mexico’s softball team | Olympic Games 2021


The players of the Mexican softball team, during the Olympic Games.
The players of the Mexican softball team, during the Olympic Games.KAZUHIRO FUJIHARA / AFP

Mexican boxer Brianda Tamara found the cleaning team in the Olympic Village with some transparent bags. There he noticed that there were game and training uniforms from Mexico. They were from the softball team that had left them at the hotel. Jackets, t-shirts and even mittens. Tamara shared the image and everything lit up. The outrage began to escalate until it generated a wave of hatred against the players.

About the softball team he plans a xenophobic speech. Most of the players have dual nationality: Mexican and American. The sports authorities sought to enhance the level of the Mexican team in the universities of the United States. This is how they recruited athletes who had Mexican roots. It was not so easy to convince them because Mexico was the great loser of the sport on the continent. Rolando Guerrero, president of the Mexican Softball Federation, convinced them to represent the country to take it, for the first time, to the Olympic Games. They did it in 2019. In Tokyo they managed to fight for the bronze medal, although Canada beat them in the last match. Achieving fourth place was a great achievement for the Mexican delegation.

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The sporting merit was overshadowed after the uniform scandal. The president of the Mexican Olympic Committee, Carlos Padilla, took the discussion to the nationalist level. “We are extremely outraged because they are uniforms that not only have the colors of Mexico, but also our national insignia, which is the flag of our country,” he said. In a first appearance, the president of the Softball Federation assured that the players left clothes and equipment in the Olympic Village because “they had to make space in their suitcase,” according to TV Azteca. In the afternoon, the Federation assured that “we are equally outraged” with the players involved and that they will apply sanctions and that “they stop representing this federation.”

“They were all born in the United States and unfortunately with this they show that they do not feel anything for Mexico”, “of course the Mexican softball team does not feel identification with the country, they are whitexicans“… Users in the different social networks and even journalists questioned the Mexicanness of the players by assuring that they have American surnames. Some of them shared the list of names of the players to attack them. “These virulent reactions when it comes to female athletes have this component of machismo. The media and journalists, in a very irresponsible way, make judgments of value without having context, using figures that allude to xenophobia and misogyny. This results as a breeding ground for the public to repeat these expressions and go to the networks to attack the players. ”, Considers Claudia Pedraza, doctor in Political Science and expert in women’s sports.

The softball players, who have already left Tokyo, were shown throughout their stay in photographs with the colors of the Mexican flag. Some of the 15 players made their Instagram accounts private. “It would seem that pointing out these xenophobic or misogynistic attacks is defending the action of the players, but this should be sanctioned in terms of the authorities. This reaction on social networks is aggressive and violent, ”adds Pedraza.

“We are sorry that the actions of our team have caused such disappointment to our fans,” wrote player Dallas Escobedo. “We had no intention of disrespecting our country or our flag. We did not intend to ignore what it means to be in the Olympics for so many. We took home all of our game uniforms, embroidered clothing, and softball gear – whatever we could fit [meter] in a single suitcase ”.

The case of softball uniforms raised more controversy because, historically, Mexican athletes have had problems with the timely delivery of sports equipment. In the last Olympic Games, in Rio, weightlifter Bredni Roque had to compete with a uniform with patches to hide the sponsor because the Mexican sports authority, Conade and the Mexican Olympic Committee, did not buy the uniform on time. At the Pan American Games, the swimmer Fernanda González denounced that those responsible for the sport in Mexico had threatened her for not wearing the competition uniform. “Whoever wears the uniform or whoever throws it away does not define your nationality, nor your sporting ability. The networks are showing how easily negative behaviors can spread ”, Pedraza ditch.

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