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Mexican football rallies round earthquake victims

  • Mexico suffered two major earthquakes in September
  • Significant loss of life and incalculable material damage
  • We look at how Mexican football is responding to the tragedy

September 2017 will go down as a black month in Mexican history, one in which the nation was rocked by two earthquakes – one in the centre of the country and the other in the south east. Triggering one of the biggest humanitarian crises in Mexico’s recent history, the devastating quakes resulted in over 300 deaths, destroyed thousands of homes and brought misery to hundreds of thousands of people.

After the second of the two earthquakes, news broadcasts around the world relayed images that were both dramatic and moving in nature. As well as widespread destruction, they also showed barely believable scenes of solidarity, as millions of people responded to the tragedy by coming out on to the streets to offer whatever help they could.

They formed chains in a bid to help rescue those trapped in the rubble. Left with very little themselves, they flocked to emergency food banks to donate vital supplies. And they came from all walks of life: doctors, psychologists, teachers and taxi drivers, offering their services free of charge and showing just how well the people of Mexico can respond to tragedy.

A helping hand

Watching from his home in London, West Ham United striker Javier Hernandez was both moved and sad at being unable to join them. “I wanted to help in any way I could,” Chicharito told FIFA.com. “I couldn’t do it with my hands, but I needed my compatriots to feel that I was there, despite the distance.”

Joining forces with his Mexico team-mate Miguel Layun, Chicharito set up #YoXMexico, an initiative that seeks to raise money for the victims of the earthquakes and to help them, as he went on to explain:

“We knew that there were a lot of people who follow us on social media and we wanted to make the most of that so we could ask for help for all the Mexican people. I don’t want it to sound negative, but we were looking to tap into the image that our job has given us in the best possible way, which is why we launched this initiative with a video.”

The football world responds

The video quickly went viral, attracting a huge amount of support for the initiative from both inside and outside the football world. Thousands of people donated what they could, while clubs such as West Ham and Pachuca joined the cause, as did footballers of the calibre of David de Gea, Keylor Navas and Iker Casillas. In a little over two weeks, #YoXMexico has raised $300,000 and counting.

Hernandez and Layun are not alone. Among the other footballers to lend support to the victims is France international Andre-Pierre Gignac, who auctioned off a shirt to raise money, and his Tigres team-mate Javier Aquino, who set up an emergency food bank in his home state of Oaxaca, one of the worst hit by the tragedy.

Few clubs have done as much as Cruz Azul. The club’s Spanish coach, Paco Jemez, and a group of his players were out on the streets helping with the rescue operation. America players Edson Alvarez and Alejandro Diaz did likewise, while fellow Mexican clubs Pumas and Zacatepec opened up makeshift centres providing food and support for the victims.

The Mexican football community has risen to the challenge. Yet as Chicharito pointed out, there remains much to be done: “The country has by no means recovered yet, and we need to keep giving our support. In a few weeks people are going to start forgetting, but the rebuilding process will need to continue for a long time. We have to be there to help the best asset that Mexico has, which is its people. And that’s not just for now but for the future too, for whatever they need.”

(A THOUSAND, THOUSAND THANKS EVERYONE! Let’s keep helping, let’s stick together for Mexico!)

Updated: October 5, 2017 — 5:33 pm

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