10 December 2006

The good guys (read: Chivas) capture Mexican soccer title

Chivas fans

Long-suffering Chivas fans took to the streets on Sunday after their squad bested Toluca 2-1 to capture the Mexican league's Apertura (Opening leg). The Guadalajara-based team only fields Mexican players - which endears it to millions across the Republic - and hadn't won the championship since 1997. Along with celebrations at Lakeside, Chivas fans also swarmed the Glorieta Minerva in Guadalajara and the Angel monument in Mexico City and later lined a two-kilometer stretch of the Carretera Guadalajara-Chapala (which runs by the airport) in order to welcome their conquering heroes home.

Despite the loss, Toluca, the runner up, has perhaps been Mexico's most successful club over the past decade. According to sports marketing expert Hector Lopez Zatarain, the Diablos Rojos (Red Devils, as Toluca is known) have been well managed and seen little turnover. Players are also paid promptly - unlike at some other clubs. The consistency differs from the coaching carousel in Guadalajara, but with a championship under his belt, no one's really blaming Chivas colorful owner Jorge Vergara for anything right now.

Update: The Miami Herald, Mexico Edition ran my piece on why Chivas' is more than just a popular soccer team.

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