Politics and football. Tension in Ohio as US and Mexico face off for 2018 Russia spots

USA vs Mexico

November 11 – Donald Trump’s victory in the United States presidential election has provided an “added layer” to today’s eagerly awaited World Cup qualifier between the US against Mexico, according to US captain Michael Bradley.

Trump described Mexicans variously as “criminals” and “rapists” during his election campaign and said he wants to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

The match will be played in Ohio, a key swing state won by Trump, and Bradley said all fans at the game must be respected, be they “American, Mexican, neutral, men, women, children”.

“Given the way everything has gone the last few months, I think there is an added layer to this game,” said Bradley. “I would hope that our fans do what they always do, which is support our team in the best, most passionate way possible.”

Today marks the start of the final stage of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, with six teams – the US, Mexico, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, Honduras and Panama – competing for three automatic spots at Russia 2018.

Tensions between the US and Mexico have steadily risen over the years as both sides vie for supremacy in North American football. Part of  this, however, is down to Mexico long being regarded as the poorer cousin geopolitically but US goalkeeper Tim Howard said he hoped the game in Columbus did not become overshadowed by Trump’s victory.

“That’s politics, and this is football,” said the former Manchester United and Everton keeper. “Mexico is going to try to kick our asses and we’re going to try to kick theirs. It’s got nothing to do with politics.”

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