El Tri’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month-and-a-half

El Tri crashed out of the World Cup earlier than expected and things have gone downhill from there. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images)
El Tri crashed out of the World Cup earlier than expected and things have gone downhill from there. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images) /
FMF El Tri
Mexican Soccer Federation president Yon de Luisa is a beleaguered man at the moment as El Tri is without a coach and the Federation has been punished twice by FIFA in the past week. (Photo by Khalil Bashar/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Since El Tri’s inglorious elimination from the World Cup on Nov. 30, the Mexican Soccer Federation has bumbled from one setback to another.

Much-maligned coach Gerardo Martino was out the door rather quickly, leaving the Federation (FMF) to deal with the fall-out of the team’s sub-par performance. Even before the tournament started, there was much grumbling among Mexico fans that rising stars such as Santiago Jiménez and Diego Lainez were left off the El Tri roster.

It didn’t help much when star midfielder Luis Chávez hinted that El Tri failed to understand Martino’s strategy.

So there was little that the FMF could do but admit it had made a mistake in hiring Martino, though the pre-World Cup house-clearing suggests the Federation was in considerable disarray beyond the senior national team.

FIFA imposes penalty, then reduces it

While the FMF launched a search for a new coach for El Tri, FIFA slapped Mexico with a $108,000-dollar fine and a one-game ban on Jan. 13 as punishment for unruly behavior by fans at the World Cup.

The specific infraction was not mentioned by FIFA though there were reports of homophobic chants directed at Poland fans during Mexico’s match against that team, as well as improper conduct during the Saudi Arabia game.

The FMF appealed the punishment and FIFA relented on the ban, so El Tri will be able to play its next home game with fans in attendance, but Mexico remains on probation. That means if fans violate protocol at any time during the next two years, the ban could be reinstated.

El Tri forced to forfeit matches, fined again

On Jan. 18, FIFA was at it again, this time handing out an $11,000-dollar fine and forcing El Tri to forfeit several matches because Mexico used an ineligible player.

Club América midfielder Alejandro Zendejas – a dual national – came up through the USA soccer system (via the FC Dallas academy) and played in official matches with the U.S. U-17 team back in 2015.

By then, Zendejas was playing in Liga MX with Guadalajara and was recruited by El Tri, playing for both the U-23 side and the senior team on five different occasions. However, the FMF failed to file the proper paperwork to allow for the switch, a violation of FIFA Statutes, according to ESPN reporter César Hernández.

Meanwhile, the Federation is trying to focus on the task at hand – a new coach.

So, despite plenty of rumor-mongering in the Mexican press (former Mexico coach Miguel Herrera threw his hat in the ring; Marcelo Bielsa was anointed by reporter David Faitelson with the caveat that Rafael Márquez and Jaime Lozano would be assistants; whispers that Ricardo Ferretti has volunteered to take the job on an interim basis), the FMF is still compiling a list of candidates.

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El Tri is not scheduled to play its next game until late March when the Conacaf Nations League resumes. Mexico will face Surinam on March 23 and Jamaica on March 26.