President says national football team brings all Mexicans together

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Mexico City, June 1 (IANS) Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto said at a send-off ceremony for the FIFA World Cup-bound national football team that it had the unique ability to bring Mexicans of all political stripes together.

During the ceremony at the Los Pinos presidential palace in this capital, Nieto also expressed confidence that the squad would perform well in Russia, reports Efe.

“You’ve managed to achieve what the political parties cannot do; everyone will follow you regardless of their party or religion. It’s something no one else does, bring together PRIistas, PANistas, PRDistas, MORENAistas, those from the Green Party and PTistas,” Peña Nieto said.

He was referring to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); the conservative National Action Party (PAN); the centre-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD); the front-runner in the upcoming July 1 presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s centre-left National Regeneration Movement (MORENA); the Green Party; and the Labor Party (PT).

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During the ceremony, the president presented the national flag to defender Hector Moreno.

Veteran defender Rafael Marquez, who will be competing in his fifth and final World Cup, stressed the sacrifices the players have made to arrive at this point.

“The road hasn’t been easy. Each of us has struggled to get here,” Marquez said.

Mexico will square off in a send-off friendly Saturday in Mexico City against Scotland and then travel hours later to Copenhagen for a June 9 pre-World Cup friendly versus Denmark.

El Tri has been drawn into Group F of the World Cup and will play their first match against defending champion Germany on June 17, followed by games against South Korea on June 23 and Sweden on June 27.

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