U.S. Latinos: Never Offsides When It Comes To Team Loyalty


(Originally published on CafeMagazine.com on June 17, 2010.)

During the World Cup, entire nations come together in collective celebration and hope, but for first and second generation Americans in the United States, the World Cup is a reminder of roots and identity.

For U.S. born Latinos, team loyalties are often split between the United States and the land of their parents, grandparents or even more distant ancestors. For naturalized U.S. Citizens and other immigrants, team loyalty to the land of their birth is often even stronger, but is this a source of pride or confusion?

In search of an answer, I put the question to my diverse group of friends on Twitter, “…1st & 2nd generation estadounidenses – Do you root for the country of your roots, the US or both?”

The answer was unanimous; there’s enough love in the hearts of fútbol fanatics to cheer on more than one team.

For Diana Estigarrbia, (@destigarribia), her love of fútbol is split three ways. “I root for Argentina [and] Chile (parents’ roots); [and] US (my birthplace) now that we have a decent team!” she told me via Twitter. Displaying equal love for traditional American past times, she added in E-mail, “I remember Argentina’s win in 1986. It was a big year for me – the New York Mets won the World Series later that fall, and I had a World Cup victory!”

Elianne Ramos, (@ergeekgoddess), also responding to my Twitter question regarding fútbol loyalties, said, “1st Argentina 2nd USA!”

Other answers proclaimed with just as much certainty that a dual citizenship in Fútbolandia is possible.

“The homeland of my kin first, then the U.S.A. My family is from Argentina. So, how can I not root for those soccer kings?” said Veronica Jarski. (@Veronica_Jarski)

Luis Tobon (@thelox714), also expressed a desire to root for both, saying, “I would [root] for both but the issue is that Colombia has not made it to the World Cup since France 98 and did not make it far.”

Ana H. Blackstad (@AnaBlackstad), said “Both Mexico & USA!”, elaborating, “My Dad was born in the US, raised in Mexico, my Mom was born & raised in Mexico. My loyalties are with both.”

Silvia answered via E-mail, “I’m from Mexico and of course my roots are with them, however the three people I love the most in this world, (my husband and two kids), are from the USA, and I’m also a US citizen, so I root for the USA as well.”

For my husband Carlos, a naturalized U.S. Citizen of Salvadoran birth, watching the World Cup and rooting for the United States doesn’t feel like a division of loyalties.

“El Salvador isn’t playing this time so it’s easy for me [to root for the United States], but if El Salvador makes it to the World Cup again some day, I would root for both.”

When I asked him how it feels to see his U.S. born children waving the red, white and blue, he shrugged and smiled. “I’d be happy to see them root for El Salvador, but it’s their choice and they were born here, so I understand.”


  1. I don’t root for the U.S, it’s not really about loyalty or nationality… I just don’t like the team! :P If they had a player as cute as El chicharito I probably would root for them tho jaja

    • LOL, MJ. The US Team could be better – they’re working on it. I’m a fan of Tim Howard, the goal keeper. He is really awesome. As for “cuteness” – the team is definitely lacking and El Tri wins that competition hands down jajaja :)

  2. El Salvador will never ever see the World Cup again. Unfortunately, there is talent, but there is no one organizing it. And it’s not impossible but the lack of base hampers any attempt. So, I have no choice but to root for the US. And the US has been doing pretty well in the World Cup. I know for people second round or even quarterfinals may not be a lot but getting past first stage is A BIG DEAL!! At least for us fans. I also root for Spain, Brazil, and pretty much any team in Latin America that plays in the WC.

    The World Cup is by far the biggest event in the world. And it’s the most exciting passionate event I have ever been to. NOTHING and I mean NOTHING compares to being in a stadium where the entire world is watching. No Baseball or Football or even the SUPERBOWL comes any close to the party and celebration during a WC game. I went to Germany 2006 and last year I went to South Africa. I was in the Spain v. Portugal and Ghana v. Uruguay Quarter final games. The Ghana game was probably the best match of the entire world cup and I was there. Even my girl called me to say, “I can’t believe you are in Soccer City (Johannesburg’s Stadium).” She’s become a huge fan. LOL.

    The reality is that if you are a true fan, you appreciate each team and game despite the fact that you may not be rooting for them. Right now, the US got many international players. The problem is not the lack of talent, the problem is building a team with talented players that can actually play together.

    • Marlon – that is very cool that you were able to go. That is definitely on the list of things Carlos and I both want to do before we die, (which is one reason I campaigned so hard for the US to win the bid, but that didn’t work out, obviously.) … We went to the recent Gold Cup quarterfinals though and that gave us a small taste of what it must be like to attend the World Cup – it’s amazing being there in person and the energy is intoxicating.

      I try to be more optimistic about El Salvador’s chances – after all, the pescadores were a huge surprise. You never know what could happen. I wish they’d put some of the playa players on the regular team to see what they can do on a grass cancha. Imaginate Tín Ruiz vs. Chicharito? I would love to see it.

      I think there is a lot of undiscovered talent out there, (in the U.S., in El Salvador, etc.) – But I agree that a team that can play together is key. You can have many gifted players, but if they don’t cooperate, they won’t be able to do half of what they’re capable of.

  3. My stepson (age 8) was born in the U.S. but roots for the Mexico team. All the way.
    His father, born in Mexico, is more conflicted. It’s like he wants to root for Mexico, but he gets disgusted with what he feels are bad decisions with the entire way the seleccion is run. He is more impressed with the management of the American program and he feels happy when his adopted country wins. But when Mexico makes it to the final stages of any important tournament, it’s only Mexico’s team that can make him so angry he vomits if they lose or if they win, so happy he jumps up & down like a pre-teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert.
    Myself, I’m an American but my dad is from a very rural background where they didn’t have access to anything by professional teams. As for my mom, women didn’t get into sports back in the day. We love local school sports and I just don’t get worked up about even the national or professional teams. You know when the opponent is just the next small town high school from a few miles away (people you or your kids will probably end up marrying), things don’t get as angry. Somehow to me Mexico and U.S. feels like about the same thing.

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