The Cable

Argentine TV Uses Donald Trump to Troll U.S. Soccer

Forget the ‘hand of God’ — Argentines are now using the small-handed Republican front-runner to score a preemptive victory against American fütbol fans.

Trumpcopa

Donald Trump has issued another grave warning: “Hundreds of thousands” of “total killers” are “coming over the border” and Americans “have no protection” — on the soccer field.

This summer, the U.S. hosts the 100th Copa América — the first time the soccer tournament has ever been held outside of South America. From June 3 to June 26, some of the world’s best players from 16 teams across the Americas will play in 32 matches in 10 U.S. cities, including Seattle, Houston and Los Angeles.

Following the lead of a TV station in soccer-obsessed Mexico, an Argentine network has spliced up film of Trump, the GOP front-runner, bloviating on overhyped immigration threats he says are posed by Mexicans and Central and South Americans. The clip openly trolls American soccer fans and the U.S. soccer program before the tournament kicks off next month.

“These are not the nice, sweet little people that you think,” The Donald says in the viral ad by Argentina’s TyC Sports network, over highlight reels of Argentina’s famous players, like the diminutive but deadly Lionel Messi, and footage of scores of fans wearing the country’s trademark light blue and white national jersey.

The New York real-estate magnate has made base appeals to some American voters’ fears throughout his presidential campaign. In his kick-off speech, he said Mexico sends rapists, criminals, and drug dealers to the U.S. — “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” He vows to build an ever-growing wall between the U.S. and Mexico and get our southern neighbor to pay for it. And he’s pledged to deport the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.

It’s not just TV stations — leaders around the Western Hemisphere from Guatemala to Mexico have trolled Trump back. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales offered “cheap labor” to build Trump’s much-touted wall — also a-tongue-in-cheek commentary on the U.S. dependence on cheap and often illegal labor in undocumented immigrants from Central America. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, vowing not to carry the price tag for the “fucking wall” (as former President Vicente Fox put it) compared Trump’s political ascent to the “rise of Hitler.”

One might think Trump, a proud businessman, would be concerned about the cost of these promises, as well as the potential profit in U.S. soccer.

Analysts estimate Trump’s wall would cost more than $6 billion and his trade wars could send Mexico, the U.S. and the world into recession, even as experts observe the U.S. border is as safe as it’s ever been.

Yet other moguls, such as David Beckham and even the New York Yankees, are specifically targeting (granted, with mixed success) large Latino populations of  fútbol fans in Southern California, Miami and New York. And U.S. soccer itself has become increasingly popular, with the average American Major League Soccer team now valued at some $157 million.

Though Trump’s electoral success is a more recent phenomenon, it’s far from the first time that U.S. soccer has been the butt of jokes from other countries where it’s the primary sport. (Though, it should be noted that the U.S. women are the reigning — and three-time — World Cup champions.) Verdad es que, of the three prior times the U.S. men’s team has participated in Copa América, it was eliminated twice in the group stage, though it made it to the semifinals in 1995.

When it comes to the tournament, Trump may have a point. Cue the Argentine video’s  kicker: “In truth, the best they can do is not let us in.”

U.S. Soccer did not respond to a request for comment.

Photo credit: Joe Raedle / Staff

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