A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

xolos logoWho wins, loses with ascension
of Tijuana Xolos to first division?

By David Gaddis Smith

The Tijuana Xolos advanced to the first division of Mexican soccer on Saturday with a 2-1 victory over the Irapuato Freseros (Strawberry Growers).

Who wins — and who loses — as a result?

Winner: Jorge Hank Rhon. The co-owner of the Xolos gets a big boost for his image and perhaps for his desire to become governor of Baja California. Hank, an Institutional Revolutionary Party politician who lost the gubernatorial race to José Guadalupe Osuna Millán of the National Action Party in 2007, would like to run again in 2013. Even Osuna's right-hand man, Cuauhtémoc Cardona Benavides, was in Hank's box. The Xolos' march to the first division captured Tijuanenses' imaginations, as long lines to buy tickets, a big crowd watching the game on a big screen at the Cuauhtémoc monument Saturday and a parade on Sunday showed. This perhaps may help Hank further ratchet down the darker side of his legacy, including two of his employees having been convicted of slaying Zeta journalist Héctor "El Gato" Félix in 1988. Félix, once friends with Hank, had poked fun in his columns at Hank and Alberto Murgía, the co-owner of the Xolos.

Winner: Mayor Carlos Bustamante. The Institutional Revolutionary Party mayor had predicted a 3-1 Tijuana victory on Saturday, and the team might have won by that score had a header that hit the crossbar and bounced behind the goal line and back into the field of play been allowed. Replays showed it to be a clear goal. Bustamante has said he hopes the Xolos' ascension will help the city highlight its many good qualities. Frontera's story about Mayor Carlos Bustamante and the Xolos.

Winner: Estadio Caliente. Bustamante said the city would help pay for the improvements the stadium needs in order for the Xolos to play in the first division. The stadium is on the Caliente Racetrack property that Hank Rhon has a long-term lease on. Story, El Mexicano. A Fausto Ovalle story in says Hank and the Xolos may owe the city money for unpaid concessions when the team played at the CREA sports facility after being formed last decade.

Possible loser: Tijuana taxpayers. See above Estadio Caliente winner item.

Possible loser: Sen. Fernando Castro Trenti, who also hopes to run for governor in 2013. He held an event on the same day as the soccer final called Fuerza Baja California, which many see as his vehicle to get the gubernatorial nomination. He said he was not in favor of timing Baja California state elections to federal elections in 2012 as he wanted to serve out his entire six-year term as senator, which ends in 2012. If the state elections were moved up a year, he would have to take a leave of absence from the Senate to run for governor under Mexico's election rules.

Loser: Frontera, El Mexicano and Sol newspapers. All ran the same story about Castro Trenti's event, apparently written by Castro Trenti's public relations team. El Mexicano's story was credited to Alberto Sarmiento, while Frontera's was credited to its editorial staff; Sol's online story was not credited. The headlines in both El Mexicano and Frontera, both also apparently from Castro Trenti's p.r. team, shifted the focus from soccer by using a baseball term to describe his event, calling it a "hit." The story/stories said 1,200 were in attendance. In the last paragraph of the story/stories, Castro Trenti did congratulate the Xolos on their victory.
Castro Trenti's Fuerza Baja California story in Frontera. El Mexicano's story. Sol's story.

Winner: Tijuana's daily newspapers, with the advertising they received from companies and government agencies congratulating the Xolos. The city government's full-page ad. Baja California state government's full-page ad on the Xolos. Volaris ad.

Possible loser: The Zeta weekly. See the above item on Jorge Hank Rhon. Zeta did not accept city government advertising during Hank Rhon's three-year term as mayor because it did not want to take money from a man whose employees were involved in the slaying of Zeta's co-founder. Zeta also has elected not to run advertising from the city during Bustamante's three years in office because of presumed editorial interference from the city government.

Possible loser: The National Action Party. Hank is on the ascendant. Can the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which now holds all of of Baja California's mayor's posts for the first time since 1989, retake the governor's office in 2013, also for the first time since 1989? Jousin Palafox column.

Winner: Cross-border relations. The former Sweetwater High School player who scored Tijuana's first goal and set up the second was Joe Corona. Story on star of the game, Joe Corona. San Diego Union-Tribune's game story. Many people have been crossing the border to watch the games.

Possible winner: Tijuana's economy. Officials expressed hope that the Xolos move to the first division will have a positive effect on the city's economy and image. Xolos club President Jorgealberto Hank Inzunza said he thought the ascension will definitely bring more money to Tijuana.

Winner: Tijuana citizens in general. Tijuana residents were excited by the win, and many hope the team's ascension into the big leagues of soccer will help improve the city's image. Ciudad Juarez team's ascension in 2008 did not seem to help, and many teams did not send their stars to Juarez because of the violence. Juarez got sent back to the second division the next year. While Tijuana still suffers from organized crime violence, it appears to be much more under control than before. Photos, story about fans who watched the game on a big screen at the Cuauhtémoc traffic circle Also, despite ticket-selling foulups, including the overselling of seats, Tijuana residents behaved in a relatively exemplary manner, unlike, say, those that tear gas had to be used on in León, a team the Xolos defeated en route to the first division. Xolos parade.

Winner: María Elvia Amaya de Hank. Hank Rhon's wife recovered from an illness that necessitated a bone-marrow transplant in Switzerland. On Friday, a day before she attended the championship game, a Mass of thanksgiving for her recovery was held. She also announced last week that she would return to her charitable works, including a Shakira concert to be held at the Estadio Caliente on June 30. She talks about her illness. She apparently had monoclonal gammopathy (El Mexicano called it monochromal gammopathy). The upcoming Shakira concert.

Winner: Soccer. A new poll in Baja California puts it as the state's most popular sport, far ahead of any other.

Winner: Xolos, short for Xoloitzcuintles, a hairless Mexican dog. They get to play in the first division. Although one player known for his full mane may not be recognizable now — Joshua Abrego shaved off his hair as part of a promise he made if the Xolos won.


More Sunday stories about the Xolos:

Frontera's front page.
Frontera's sports section cover.
Story, El Mexicano.
Who was in Jorge Hank's box.
Pictures of those in Hank's box.