1988 Mexico national football team scandal
The 1988 Mexico national football team scandal, known also as the cachirules scandal was a football controversy occurring in April and May 1988 when it was discovered that at least four players of the Mexican youth football team were over the age limit during the 1988 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament, a qualification tournament for the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship.
The case ended with a strict sanction against Mexican football, with its national teams in all categories being excluded from all international competition during a two-year period (1988–1990), which implicated the absence of the senior national team from the 1990 FIFA World Cup. The cachirules scandal has been considered as a turning point between two eras in the history of Mexican football.
Mexico and other national youth teams of the CONCACAF region were required to finish in first or second place in the 1988 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament hosted in Guatemala during April of 1988 if they wanted to qualify to the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship in Saudi Arabia.
Earlier in the same year, FIFA had issued a statement warning all national associations not to try to deceive the footballing authorities with regards to the age of players participating in youth tournaments (in response to what was common practice by youth teams across the world of including players of age over the regulatory limit). The maximum age established by FIFA for participation of footballers in the Youth World Championship was 20 years.
Mexico first played two matches against Guyana, whom they beat by scores of 9-0 and 2-0, and then against locals Guatemala, winning again both matches 2-1 and 3-0. This last victory occurred on 20 April 1988 with forward Gerardo Jiménez scoring a goal, which secured the first place of the group for Mexico and their qualification to the World Youth Championship.
Journalist Antonio Moreno from the Mexican channel Imevisión (now TV Azteca) and author of a football-dedicated column for Mexican newspaper Ovaciones, discovered in an April 1988 yearbook (1986-87 edition) published by the Mexican Football Federation (FEMEXFUT) itself, a discrepancy between the players' ages shown in the publication and the ones submitted by the federation to CONCACAF for the qualification tournament in Guatemala. On 20 April 1988 Moreno published an article emphasizing the risks of "trying to create an advantage over the opponents by including players over the permitted age". In response, the then FEMEXFUT president Rafael del Castillo played down the matter and verbally attacked the reporter.
Antonio Moreno, however, was backed up by fellow Imevisión journalist José Ramón Fernández, from the show La Misma Hora, who broadcast the news on television. The initial reaction of the FEMEXFUT was to deny and ignore the accusations, but once the public realized the magnitude of the scandal, many Mexican journalists began to interview the players and to insistently look for the team members' birth certificates; eventually, the real birth dates of players Gerardo Jiménez and José de la Fuente, both two years older than the established limit by the FEMEXFUT, were found. Forward José Luis Mata was over the age limit by three years, and defender Aurelio Rivera was four years over. Rivera, at the time the team captain, has declared in later interviews that every one of the members of the squad was over age, although such affirmation has not been verified.
The information was widely spread on televised and written media in Mexico and inevitably reached the United States Soccer Federation, who submitted an official complaint to CONCACAF demanding the case to be investigated after its youth team failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup in Saudi Arabia. The Guatemalan Football Federation also jumped in and joined the protest. The discovery was conducted by Salvadorean José Ramón Flores, who promptly verified the falsity of the ages submitted by the FEMEXFUT for the tournament's squad members.
As a result, CONCACAF initially determined on June 19, 1988 that the ages of the four said players were in fact false and Mexico was disqualified from participation in the Saudi Arabia Youth World Championship; further, several officials were sidelined for life (but not the team coach Francisco Avilán), among them José de Jesús Alvarez Guzmán, Rafael Castellanos, Rafael del Castillo, Víctor Manuel González, Ramón Martínez, Manuel Acevez Montenegro, Gerardo Gallegos, Gilberto Morfín Salazar, and Héctor Antonio Pérez. With the expulsion of Mexico, it was the Guatemalan team who replaced them in the next qualifying round. The United States replaced Mexico and, along with Costa Rica, they were the two CONCACAF nations to qualify to the World Youth Championship.
Rafael del Castillo traveled to Zurich on June 22, 1988 and attempted to appeal before FIFA, hoping to overturn the lifeban issued by CONCACAF; no regard was given to the situation of Mexican football's suspension The Mexican executives arrived at the FIFA headquarters confident on the influence that Guillermo Cañedo might have within the world football's governing body, but they did not achieve the expected results.
In June 30th 1988, FIFA not only backed the measures dictated by CONCACAF, which had punished only the Mexican youth team, but in addition, increased the sentence by disqualifying all Mexican national teams, including the senior team, from every FIFA-sanctioned international competition for a period of two years; therefore, the Mexican team was left out of the 1988 Olympic tournament in Seoul, as well as the 1990 FIFA World Cup having been precluded from participation in the preliminary qualification rounds.
Origin of the name "cachirules"
A possible origin of the word refers to the slang word cachirul or cachirulo, term used in Mexico at the beginning of the 20th Century to designate a patch or repair of bad quality on clothing. Alternatively, the term cachirul or cachirulo was employed for all things of questionable quality, origin, or reputation. Football used the adjective in the yards of lower amateur categories in cities and towns of Mexico, referring to players whom without being part of the team roster, would take the field in order to complete the team and thus avoid losing the game due to lack of players. This implicated deceiving the referee, as players used other player's identity, creating a "cachirul". As time passed, and especially after the 1988 scandal, the term cachirul in Mexico has become almost exclusively a footballing term.
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- Video del reportaje del 20 aniversario del escándalo de Los Cachirules - Parte 2 ESPN. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
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