Los Angeles-area fans gather to watch World Cup

Fans gather to watch Mexico vs. South Africa World Cup 2010 game at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood, California
Fans gather to watch Mexico vs. South Africa World Cup 2010 game at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood, California Collin Robinson/KPCC

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez attended a World Cup viewing party in Lincoln Heights for the Mexico versus South Africa game, which ended in a tie. KPCC's Corey Moore went to a viewing party at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood. Fans watched the game on a giant LED screen in the middle of the plaza, along with a number of other screens.

Updated 12:46 p.m.

Fans watching the game weighed in with their thoughts on the World Cup.

“I came here because I know people here are real soccer fans. It doesn’t even have to be the World Cup for it to be packed for a game,” said Javier Gonzales, 32, of East L.A.

Hector Morales, 41, of Highland Park said, “We go all year long having to take a back seat to all the other sports here [in the United States], but the World Cup is time for true soccer fans to shine.”

“I haven’t missed a day of work in probably about 10 years, but I decided to take off for once and enjoy the World Cup because it means that much to me and the pride I have in my country,” said Jesus Gonzalez, 28, of Echo Park. “I think with all this immigration stuff people need something to believe in right now.”

“Mexico is such a poor country in many parts, we need everything we can that’s positive,” said Ricardo Jimenez, 34, of Leimert Park. “The team doing well lifts the spirits of everyone in the country and that have ties to the country. I’m very excited to see what happens.”

“The World Cup is always so exciting,” said Lupe Consuelo, 25, of South L.A. “It doesn’t draw as many fans in the U.S. as football or basketball, but the fans are so much more into it. Especially for Mexicans, it’s more than just a game – it’s a way to stay connected with your roots and be with people that are just as crazy about soccer as they are their country.”

“The World Cup means so much to my family and the community we live in,” said Yesenia Cortez, 29, of South L.A. “People are struggling to make money and support their families. It’s a way for people to get away from that and cheer for the home team.”

“My wife thinks I’m out working right now,” said Manuel Villalobes, laughing. Villalobos, 33, lives in South L.A. “I normally would be [at work], but the World Cup is different. Everything is for higher stakes and it’s like a month long Super Bowl. I wanted to come make sure Mexico gets off to a good start.”

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At Plaza Mexico, fans held and waved the Mexican flag, with some wrapped in the flag. Men, women and children all came out to watch the game. The event also included live music. The plaza was packed, with little parking to be found.

The game ended in a tie.

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Anita Martinez invited her friends via Facebook and the telephone to the early morning viewing party. Nine friends and family gathered to watch the game in Lincoln Heights with Martinez.

Thirty minutes in, there were a lot of oohs and ahs as Mexico dominated near the South African goal, though the score remained 0-0. South Africa also had quite a few shots on goal.

Caltech physicist Brendan Crill, who attended Martinez's party, grew up playing soccer. "In South Africa, they have this new ball that a lot of the players have complained about," said Krill. "And we've seen it act really funny on some of the free kicks. You can tell it's really light and they can't really get it down. The thing will fly off on its own."

Original story:

"They don't call it the beautiful game for nothing," said Martinez, a library clerk with the Los Angeles Public Library. "What I think is beautiful about it is the communal aspect. The fans are just as important as the players on the field." Martinez also talked about the global scope of the game.

Martinez came to the game later in life, traveling to Europe and getting into the game. Some of her friends at the party have been watching since they were very young, and some of them played.

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