REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- Did a Mexican pro soccer player cross a line when he celebrated a goal by pretending to shoot a fellow teammate in the head?
That's how Guadalajara star Marco Fabian marked his first of three goals on Saturday in the Chivas' 5-2 win over crosstown squad Estudiantes Tecos. He stopped before teammate Alberto Medina, pointed his finger and mimicked the cocking of a pistol, and then "fired" at Medina, who played along by falling back onto the turf as if executed by a gunshot to the head.
Watch video of the incident. One Spanish-language broadcaster is heard remarking, "Well, all the beauty of their goal was just ruined with the celebration."
Critics slammed Fabian's mock execution on the playing field. Dubbing it a "celebración de sicario," or "hit man's celebration," commentators said the stunt made an unfortunate reference to Mexico's convulsive drug war, in which brutal executions are a daily reality in many parts of the country (link in Spanish).
"It didn't cross our mind what people would have ended up thinking," Fabian said after the game, in an apology (link in Spanish). "The truth is Alberto and I made a bet that the first to put in a goal would celebrate that way."
The stunt earned Fabian an on-field yellow card and then an admonishing press release from the Chivas clubhouse (link in Spanish). The Guadalajara team said it "regretted" the players' celebration and reminded fans and media it is "always in favor of 'No Violence.'"
"This is another example of collateral damage in [President Felipe] Calderon's war," one reader quipped on the El Universal newspaper website. "Even the football players feel like they're hit men now."
In late August, television viewers across Mexico watched in horror as a shooting outside a professional soccer stadium in the northern city of Torreon led frightened players to empty the field and thousands of fans to scramble to cover.
No fans or players were injured in that incident.
-- Daniel Hernandez
Photo: Marco Fabian, left, celebrates after scoring against Puebla during a Mexican Soccer Tournament game at Jalisco stadium in Guadalajara on Sept. 17. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency