Players pose for a picture during a training session before the match against the United States at the CAR on August 13, 2012 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Edgar Negrete/Clasos.com/LatinContent/Getty Images)

Players pose for a picture during a training session before the match against the United States at the CAR on August 13, 2012 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Edgar Negrete/Clasos.com/LatinContent/Getty Images)

Mexican national soccer team under pressure by immigration activists to skip game in Arizona

It’s Mexico vs. Denmark at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on January 30 and you would think anticipation and excitement for the game would be high from fans and Mexican-Americans in Arizona. But immigration rights organizations say not so fast. 

“The Mexican soccer team is coming down to play in the apartheid state of Arizona,” says Salvador Reza, 61, an organizer for TonaTierra for 20 years who works with its Barrio Defense Committees engaging with families on problems they face from authorities. “Where anybody who looks brown is suspect and officers would even stop them if they saw them driving. For them to come here and leave millions of dollars to the state of Arizona in taxes and revenue is a disservice to the community they represent.”

In a statement to NBC Latino, the Mexican Soccer Federation said it believes it’s important for the Mexican national team to take part in the game in Arizona.

“For the Mexican Soccer Federation  it’s important that the Mexican team be present in any state in the United States, so we can give fans who always support us a great show, and we’re certain many fans will be with us for the game,” it wrote in Spanish.

Reza says there aren’t many organizations still supporting a boycott of Arizona after the National Council of La Raza said there is no ongoing boycott against the state for its treatment of Latinos, but says TonaTierra is receiving support from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and its affiliates.

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The issue is larger to TonaTierra than just one game. A protest is scheduled for Saturday, which will begin at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio and pass the University of Phoenix Stadium before ending at the Glendale Police Department, where Reza says hundreds will be in attendance to protest the criminalization of their community.

The 2013 match will mark El Tri’s third visit to the University of Phoenix Stadium. Mexico’s first visited in 2007 in a sold-out international exhibition against the United States, with more than 60,000 fans in attendance. According to the University of Phoenix web site for the game, Mexico last played at the facility in 2009, defeating Guadeloupe in a Gold Cup doubleheader group match.

“We would love for them not to come or to do a form of protest in solidarity with the community,” Reza says.

“We’re talking about a high level here — they’re one of the best teams in the world. But we have a problem with them leaving millions of dollars in the coffers of Arizona.”

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