I've been showing World Cup games all week after almost all the boys (and some of the girls too) in the after-school program told me they wanted to go home to watch. The Brazil game on Tuesday reminded me why I love soccer and the World Cup - all the kids sat together in front of the TV cheered loudly for Brazil the whole game, even though we don't have any Brazilians and the kids are from all over the world. The game was in Spanish (no cable at school), but it didn't stop the kids from North Africa and South Asia from really getting into the game.
The Mexico game on Friday was much more typical of the racial/ethnic tensions present in the school. All the Mexican kids stood up proudly and sang the national anthem (complete with the salute over the chest). Almost immediately after the game started, the kids divided themselves up into a Mexican table and mostly South American table. All the South American kids cheered for Angola, mostly to be obnoxious, and I had to break up a number of fights between the two groups. Some of the black kids in the program came over and said some anti-Mexican things (a few actually watched the Brazil game). The divide between the Mexican kids and everyone else seems to be surfacing a lot more after the national immigration debate, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. I'm glad that the Mexican kids aren't backing down and I know that despite the portrayal in the media that soccer brings us all together, the World Cup isn't going to solve anything. It is just too bad that it takes el jogo bonito (the beautiful game in Portuguese) to bring the kids together.