Xolos: How A Football Team Without Borders Saved A Mexican American Former Marine


My name is Robert Diaz, and I’m better known as Rudo. I represent the fan that lives in the U.S. but still loves Tijuana. I’m an away fan that follows a team at home games. I fell in love with Tijuana soccer since I was a kid. My dad took me to go see Inter de Tijuana and Nacional de Tijuana growing up. In 2007, I found out that Xolos was an upcoming team. I didn’t go to the game till they were already promoted to the first division, but I haven’t stopped going ever since. They have a fan in me for life. I’m driving to Tijuana, and it’s easily a three-hour drive; it has been longer. You know, we have to stop because my little kids, you know, they get tired. They can only sit in the car seats for so long. But I’m not the only one that does this. I’m one in easily, you know, 11,000 people that do this. I came to the U.S. maybe when I was 11 years old. We started becoming Americanized, but we were still illegal. We didn’t have papers to go back to Mexico. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to cross the border. I’m a Mexican-born American, and a lot of people like me can’t cross the border. I like to come here to pay my respects. Cesar Lopez, United States Marine Corps. In honor of all the U.S. vets who have served and have been deported. There’s people that can’t even go to a game for immigration purposes, and any time Xolos plays anywhere in America, those people go to those games. – [Nate Abaurrea:] This is a 12-year-old club for all intents and purposes, and from 2007 to 2011 was scrapping in the lower leagues and getting up to Liga MX. – [Robert Dias:] A third of the stadium crowd, it’s probably American. You know, I say American but people that cross the border to watch a game. – [Abaurrea] There is no other team like this in world football, and I don’t say that lightly. That’s a really kind of dramatic statement to make, but it’s a fact. There is no other team that has a home fanbase in two countries at the same time. – [Dias:] You know, like it or not it’s revolutionary, you know, for a Mexican to go back to Mexico
and to be able to come back to America is huge. – [Abaurrea:] The fact of the matter is what’s going on at the border right now, it might scare some people away.
It doesn’t scare the Xolo Familia away because we’ve got something bigger than a border. We’ve got a family. This is a team that is truly borderless. – [Dias:] The first thing I did when I was a resident, a U.S. resident, I joined the Marine Corps. To give back to this country that had given my family so much. My recruiter told me I was going to play soccer for the Marine Corps. So I jumped in. That’s a very proud moment in my life to play for the All-Marine team. 9/11 happened and it changed the world, it changed history, and I wasn’t ready to go to college anymore. I was ready to go to war. War messes with your mind, it messes with your future. After I left the Marine Corps, I was in a dark area. I didn’t know how to deal with my life. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. So, I, I did a lot of heavy drinking, heavy drinking just to kind of numb the mind. It changed the rest of my life. I haven’t been the same. The same kid that went in is not the same person that’s here standing in front of you. I’m dealing with a lot of stuff, but I’m dealing with it. My wife and I, we would visit Tijuana back then, and you can still sense that the city was under, I want to call it a reconstruction. – There’s definitely in Tijuana a before and after Xolos era. – [Broadcaster:] The victims were Mexicans involved in the drug cartels’ feud. – [Santiago Antón:] It was a dangerous place to be but nothing to do with soccer or football or sports. – For I want to say two years, I lost a sense of who I was. It goes hand in hand with Xolos because Xolo team was being built in 2007. Who would have thought that that person that was going to Iraq, you know, back-to-back, was a family man with kids. I believe that Xolos has saved my life. It has helped me with my PTSD, because it gives me a sense of purpose. Life makes sense to me because Xolos has filled that void. With the growth of the club, I started seeing the city cleanup its act. It feels fresh, it feels young again, it feels alive. And I believe it goes hand in hand with what Xolos has done for the city. Long time ago we came up with the saying that soccer united us but Xolos made us a family. Every time we know that we are coming to Tijuana, we get so excited. We plan our haircuts, we plan what we’re going to buy, you know, what shirt I’m wearing Saturday and Sunday, because this is a way of life. – [Abaurrea:] Rudo is a microcosm of the ethos of Club Tijuana. – [Antón:] Everybody, like, identifies with him because it’s not only just a Xolo fan, he’s like a regular guy that comes with his family, but he lives in Coachella. – I represent the fan that lives in the U.S. I have so many friends in L.A. and Santa Cruz, Fresno, Bakersfield that travel more than me. – I got up at 5 o’clock in the morning, got out of the house by 6 and it’s a mission to come, but, you know, it’s well worth it. – From day one that we went to the Estadio Caliente where Xolos play, my wife and I, we sense that it wasn’t like any other stadium. We started venturing and taking a grill and taking our own food, our own drinks, and there was people already doing that. And it is part of the culture now. – [Martinez:] I’ve been coming to Tijuana since I was a little girl. My mom brought me and I brought my kids and so on. – [Abaurrea:] It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what your skin color is, what your religion is,
what language you speak. If you’re down to root for the Xolos, there’s a place for you here, and I’d be willing to wager there’s also a plate of food and a beer waiting for you if you’re willing to cheer for the Xolos. – [Dias:] You can’t see that in any other stadium in Mexico. In Tijuana you see that American culture. The game’s at 7, I’ll be there at noon. Murals have been a huge part of Mexican history, and it was Diego Rivera that gave the Hank family their first Xoloitzcuintli. I believe that’s why the Xolo is so near our heart. We have adopted the dog, you know, as a fanbase, and we are in love with the Xoloitzcuintli. It is who we are. I believe I’m part of the team with my social media. You know, I put my heart and soul into it. – [Antón:] Rudo, with his page Los Rudos, he has like the biggest page from a Xolos fan here in Tijuana. – [Dias:] I dedicate a big part of my life to finding out what’s going on in the club, what’s going on with the players, what’s happening to the former players. Los Rudos is a wrestling word. It has nothing to do with football or Xolos. – It’s not all about the game, but it’s everything that surrounds, like that whole sport, the whole club. – [Dias:] I have this, you know, this fantasy dream of what if I worked for Xolos. I try to be the best dad that my kids will ever have. I don’t buy them material things. I give them moments, and going to Xolos games is one of those moments. I love my team, not for now, you know. Of course, when the team wins, it’s huge. But if the team loses,
it’s OK because I’m not here in it for today. I’m here in it for the rest of my life. I don’t want my kids to stop going to Mexico. I want them to grow up knowing that Mexico exists because we can’t not cross the border. We have to continue crossing that border.

30 thoughts on “Xolos: How A Football Team Without Borders Saved A Mexican American Former Marine

  1. You have to be convicted of a crime to deported even after you served so…..what the hell did this guy do? Nothing serious I believe. It’s a touching story but I’m not falling for it. Btw open borders don’t work and they never will. Open Borders = Disaster and that applies to every country in the world.

  2. lmao this team is like 30 mins from my house here in SD. I kinda wanna go to a Xolos game but i dont wanna get killed in TJ LOL

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