The U.S. Soccer Federation cares about the history of soccer in this country. In the lead-up to this weekend’s CONCACAF Cup match between the U.S. and Mexico for a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup, a number of articles have appeared on the site on the history between the two countries including looks at the first time the U.S.A. beat Mexico in 1934 and the last time the U.S.A. faced a one-game playoff in 1976, a 3-0 loss to Canada.
However, there are limits to what the U.S. Soccer Federation will do.
On November 23, 1980 at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, the U.S. National Team defeated Mexico for the first time since the 1934 match mentioned above. The 1980 game was broadcast on Mexican TV, but not on American TV. (The U.S. National Team did not appear on American TV until 1984.) A tape of the 1980 game is in the Televisa archive in Mexico City. Unfortunately, the Mexican Soccer Federation won’t release the tape. The U.S. Soccer Federation could put pressure on its counterpart to release it, but so far the U.S.S.F. hasn’t been willing to do that. It’s not a high enough priority for them.
Noah Davis described in the SB Nation article “Not just another game” a few years ago the struggle I and others have faced trying to obtain a copy of the “lost tape” of the U.S. National Team:
More than 30 years later, the loss is still so embarrassing and painful in Mexico that film of the game—if it even exists—remains hidden away in the depths of the archives at Televisa, the media conglomerate that broadcast the match. In terms of the U.S.-Mexico soccer rivalry, it would be as if the Soviet Union controlled the only tape of the American “Miracle on Ice” victory in 1980 Olympics. David Brett Wasser was the first person to alert me about potential footage of the game, which appeared on a Spanish-language channel in the U.S. The New York City-born, Austin, Texas resident has a collection of around 250 United States national team games, more than 350 NASL games, and many others that he trades on DaveBrett.com. But he doesn’t own the victory in 1980. He believes Televisa has a copy, but he contends that the Mexican federation refuses to release it because of the score line. “Mexico shouldn’t have lost that match. Why would they want to add to a U.S. highlight reel?” he said. “The only way it’s going to happen is for [United States Soccer Federation president] Sunil Gulati to get on the phone with his counterpart at the Mexican soccer federation and say that he’d really like a copy of the tape because it’s a historic moment…
“Gringos at the Gate,” a 2012 independent documentary directed by Roberto Donati, Pablo Miralles, and Michael Whalen, examines the growth of the rivalry between the United States and Mexico. During the editing process in 2011, the crew attempted to gain access to the footage from the match, the only modern era game between the two countries not readily available. Tanya Brum Da Silveira, the post-production supervisor, contacted Leon Krauze, an official historian for the Mexican team. He initially offered to help, but never came through. She also tried to go through Televisa. “My experience was pretty terrible,” she said. “I just kept going back and forth. It seemed like I had a lead at Televisa, but then they couldn’t give me any answers. I ended up reaching really nowhere. Five months went by and we needed to move on. In the end, they said they couldn’t get it for me. I was waiting and waiting and waiting for them. It exists, but it’s under lock and key somewhere.”
Cesar Diaz is the editor-in-chief of LatinoSports.com and ThisIsCosmosCountry.com, and another person who has attempted to gain access to the tape. In an August 2012 blog post, he wrote, “In an effort clearly based out of curiosity, I contacted both Televisa and the Mexican Football Federation [about the film]. Even though both companies were polite with me, I knew I was going nowhere them.”
He explained further in a telephone call: “It’s almost like the one hidden document that [the federation doesn’t] want to reveal. I’ve reached out to my buddies in California to see if they can get it on the black market. If you’ve been to East L.A., go to Olvera Street on a Saturday or hit one of the swap meets. [They got me] plenty of stuff on Lucha Libre, but nothing on the game. I have to give it to the Mexican Soccer Federation: They’ve done a good job keeping it under wraps.”
Davis’ own efforts to secure a tape of the game were unsuccessful.
I am still hopeful that some day we will be able to watch video of the broadcast of the historic U.S. victory over Mexico in 1980. If anyone has any suggestions on how to get the 1980 tape from Televisa, I would love to hear them. Just email me at DaveBrett@austin.rr.com