Monday, March 28, 2016

Thousands Flee Guatemala Ahead of Tuesday's Qualifier vs. U.S.

Every day for the last several years, children are leaving Guatemala without parents and traveling through Mexico to cross the border into the U.S.

Since word got out a few years back about a 2008 human trafficking law that gives rights to unaccompanied alien children (UAC) coming to the U.S., three countries have witnessed an exodus of their citizens fleeing North. Children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, as well as families from those three countries, are coming here to escape violence and poverty.

It's a heavy dose of irony and politics that make the matches between the U.S. National Team versus the National Teams of these three countries so fraught with intrigue. How can it be that these games should even be played when one country is losing its citizens daily so they can escape to live in the other?

Making things even more interesting, Guatemala won the first encounter versus the U.S. in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, a few days ago. This means the U.S. is taking in a lost generation from Guatemala and taking a beating on the field, too.

Politics in sports has always been part of international competitions, including diplomatic ones, like the 'Ping Pong' diplomacy between China and the U.S. during the Nixon administration. Athletic competition has superseded conflict among nations in the Olympics, time after time-i.e. Jesse Owens, Iran wrestlers, USSR hockey, etc... But, in the most drastic of situations, a boycott is considered. It is rarely carried out, but there are precedents-i.e. to overcome Apartheid in South Africa and the 1980 Summer Olympics by the U.S.

A boycott by the U.S. against Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala for these World Cup qualifiers or Gold Cup competitions has never been mentioned, but maybe it should be. These numbers are outlandish and out of control. The corruption in these Central American countries has gone on for way too long and their populations have been ignored.

Of course, now, the U.S. can't refuse to play Guatemala due to any political strife. It's too late. This point should have been made a while back. The only way for the U.S. to send a message is to win the match and push Guatemala further away from qualifying.

A country like Guatemala doesn't deserve to be World Cup bound. I feel funny saying that, knowing Russia and Qatar are the next two WC hosts.

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