Football in Mexico
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Mexico's most popular sport is association football. It is believed by some that football was introduced in Mexico by English miners at the end of the 19th century. By 1902 a five-team league emerged with a strong English influence. Football became a professional sport in 1943. Since then, Mexico's top clubs have been Guadalajara and América with 11 championships, Toluca with 10 and Cruz Azul with 8. Antonio Carbajal was the first player to appear in five World Cups, and Hugo Sánchez was named best CONCACAF player of the 20th century by IFFHS. Mexico's biggest stadiums are Estadio Azteca, Estadio Olímpico Universitario and Estadio Jalisco. As of 2006, it was estimated that there were over 324,000 registered players and 8,155,000 unregistered players in the country.
Football has been played professionally in Mexico since the early 1900s, with the first club being C.F. Pachuca. Since 1996, the country has played two split seasons instead of a traditional long season. There are two separate playoff and league divisions. This system is common throughout Latin America. After many years of calling the regular seasons as "Verano" (Summer) and "Invierno" (Winter); Liga MX (historically Primera División de México, Mexican First League Division) have changed the names of the competition, and has opted for a traditional name of "Apertura" (opening) and "Clausura" (closing) events. The Apertura division begins in the middle of Mexico's summer and ends before the official start of winter. The Clausura division begins during the New Year, and concludes in the spring season.
Mexican football has four divisions, beginning with Liga MX and followed by Ascenso MX, Segunda División de México, and Tercera División de México. The teams are promoted and relegated by the Mexican Football Federation (FMF). Relegation is a common practice in Mexican football. This means one club from the top league division moving down, and one side from the bottom league division moving up.
The relegation system does not punish clubs for having a bad season. Mexican clubs are assessed on their previous five campaigns. Points are accumulated for five seasons and divided by the number of matches played. The club with the lowest percentage after the Clausura season is relegated to the lower division.
Mexico's most successful clubs have been América with 12 championships, Guadalajara with 11, Toluca 10, and Cruz Azul 8. Mexico has hosted two FIFA World Cups, in 1970 and 1986. Stadiums include Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara, Estadio Tecnológico in Monterrey and Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Estadio Azteca is the biggest stadium in the world to have hosted two World Cup finals and is one of the largest stadiums in the world.
The Mexican national football team finished twice as runner-ups at the Copa América, became world champions at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Peru, the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup, and have reached the quarter finals twice at the World Cup. Recently, some players from Mexico have gone on to play in Europe, including Jared Borgetti, Rafael Márquez, Gerardo Torrado, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Nery Castillo, Carlos Salcido, Ricardo Osorio, Pável Pardo, Andrés Guardado, Guillermo Franco, Carlos Vela, Giovani dos Santos, Omar Bravo, Aaron Galindo, Héctor Moreno, Francisco Javier Rodríguez, Francisco Fonseca, Javier Hernández (commonly referred to as "Chicharito"), Pablo Barrera, and Efraín Juárez.
In the early 1900s, football was used as a method to "indoctrinate modern labor practices" such as teamwork and competition within a set of rules upon the unskilled workers.
Many of the early football teams were affiliated with corporations.
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