When I first started this project, I was living in a guesthouse in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in Mexico City. I arrived in Mexico just as the 2002 World Cup competition got underway and watched the city's excitement level grow as fans—and everyone was a fan— followed their team's fortunes. Because of time-zone differences, Mexico's pivotal first-round game took place at 6 A.M. local time, and so, along with about twelve other sleepy fans, I roused myself from bed to watch the national team and its wonderfully named leader Cuauhtemoc Blanco tie a lackluster Italian squad and secure a coveted spot in the second round of the competition. The city exploded with energy: the traffic, never good, was snarled for hours as fans ran in circles around the Angel of Independence, a statue that commemorates the country's freedom from Spain and is unfortunately situated in the middle of a busy street. Every newspaper published a special edition with photographs from the game, and restaurants and bars across town endlessly replayed the game for several days.
Perhaps it was a bit more excitement than in a comparable U.S. city—especially considering the Mexicans hadn't