Mexico vs Iceland
Posted on 25 Mar 2010 by James Willamor
Thousands of rabid fans packed Uptown Charlotte on Wednesday for the Mexico versus Iceland soccer “friendly.” While the game ended in a zero — zero draw, Mexico dominated most of the game, getting several close scoring opportunities.
The festivities start early in the day for fans of Mexico, and by 5PM tailgate parties are in full swing with drinks, face painting, barbecue, mariachi bands, and blasting sound systems. Closer to the stadium, Mint Street is closed off and stages and tents offer games, entertainment, and prizes.
The main entertainment, however, is the non-stop parade of fans. Horns, drums, whistles, and cowbells and chants are lead lead by a man in a Mayan headdress. Honk, honk, honk, May-He-Coe! Olé, olé olé olé! Flags and banners of all sizes fill the street. Smoky fireworks create a haze in the late afternoon sun. “Hey! Hey, take my picture!” shouts a group of young men as they strike a playful pose behind their barbecue grill. “Can I offer you a beer? Shot of tequila, amigo?!”
Inside the stadium, the crowd reaches fever pitch as Mexico takes the field. It doesn’t matter that this exhibition game is more like a preseason or spring training game, or that only a few of these players will make the World Cup squad. This is their team. Giant banners stretch across several sections of seats. Huge flags cover large areas of stadium, the fans underneath bouncing with relentless energy. Everyone has a sign or flag or foam finger to wave. More fireworks fill the lower section of the stadium with smoke. How did they get those past security? I wonder.
Yet security never seemed to be an issue. Though wildly energetic, the massive crowd seems well behaved and even polite. Everyone seems willing to share what they have. No drunken fistfights or puking over the railing like I’ve seen an Panthers games. The US national anthem is meet with loud cheers and waving of American flags. The Icelandic national anthem is met with the same respect.
A scoreless game doesn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the Mexican fans. The constant drumming and horns continue as fans spill out of the stadium and down the streets. I start to wonder if Bank of America stadium has ever seen an event like this, and I then I start to hope I’ll be there see it again.