Mexico's story in the FIFA World Cup is not a successful one, but Italy 1990 was a total disaster. El Tri couldn't make it to that edition, with a case that will go through time as the most shameful and unforgettable moment in their history.
In Mexico, soccer is one of the most popular sports alongside boxing. Even though its national team has failed to advance through the Round of 16 in the FIFA World Cups played outside their soil, the hopes are the same every four years that they will finally get the task done.
Of course huge stars have played for El Tri throughout history, but in the 80's it was different. That squad was seen as one of the best that the country has had, but an administrative problem left them out of what was expected to be an incredible FIFA World Cup for them: Italy 1990.
Why was Mexico banned from FIFA's international competitions for two years?
As said before, Mexico has two favorite sports: soccer and boxing. Despite their interest in the first one, they have not been as successful as in the second one, but they have always tried to.
El Tri has acquired another nickname thanks to its power in North America: Concacaf's giants. Throughout history, Mexico has dominated the Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup and other tournaments, but of course they have struggled from time to time.
This happened in the late 80's. After hosting the 1986 FIFA World Cup, Mexico had another mission ahead: Italy 1990. After a good performance at home, they needed to prove the world what they were capable of outside their soil and finally play five games in this tournament abroad.
Unfortunately, an administrative problem banned them from all FIFA's international competitions for two years. That included Italy 1990 World Cup and the 1988 Olympic Games at Seoul, Korea.
What was the issue? Well, during the 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship Qualifiers, the world soccer’s governing body detected something unusual with Mexico. El Tri used at least four players above the age limit in the tournament, which obviously is not allowed.
Under FIFA rules, Mexico was not allowed to appeal the decision of the two-year ban. Mario Velarde, coach of Mexico's Olympic national team was devastated with the news. "Is sad [the ban], unfortunate, but we must take a positive attitude. Face it basically with a daily labor to try to improve.”
This is probably the most shameful moment in Mexico's soccer history, but one they must not forget. It was the fifth time that El Tri didn't advance to a FIFA World Cup and, hopefully for them, the last one.