El Tri's World Cup exit set to spark overhaul of Mexican football
SAMARA, Russia -- After Monday's round of 16 defeat to Brazil, Mexico's federation will work to modify part of its structure for World Cups in Qatar in 2022 and the one it will host jointly with Canada and the United States in 2026.
The loss will almost certainly close several chapters from the highest levels on down, including those of top executive Decio de Maria, manager Juan Carlos Osorio and icon Rafael Marquez, a five-time World Cup participant who had already announced his retirement.
Here's a look at three key figures who will move on:
De Maria, a long-tenured leader
Decio de Maria's term as federation president ended with Mexico's participation in this World Cup. His replacement will be Yon de Luisa, an executive of Mexican media conglomerate Televisa who has had a distinguished career internationally and who has familiarity dealing with FIFA. He is now charged with heading the organization that governs the most popular sport in our country.
De Maria, who spearheaded Mexican efforts to help the joint bid land the 2026 World Cup, joined the federation (FMF) in 2004. He held several administrative FMF positions, given his degree in economics.
In 2012, he was named president of Liga MX and Ascenso MX. One of his most important achievements was the creation of the current domestic league format, which is structured in an effort to benefit and develop the national team. He was elevated to FMF president three years later and can be remembered in his final phases in charge as an advocate for Financial Fair Play (which called for no aid from state and local governments for soccer teams), though he was one of the executives against the abolishment of the relegation system in the top division.
De Maria will remain as an advisor to the World Cup organizing group. However, he will keep a distance from the day-to-day decisions that affect a federation that had him in its ranks for more than 14 years, making him one of its longest-tenured executives.
Osorio keeps an eye outside of Mexico
It is almost a given that Juan Carlos Osorio's tenure as coach ends here. He himself has said as much at news conferences, in which he has referenced the challenges that come with coaching Mexico. His desire is to manage clubs in England and therefore return to a team-building atmosphere in which he can have consistency and closeness with players.
As much as his intentions lean toward managing teams that are part of the world's most elite leagues, the Colombian coach will nevertheless be a target to head his country's national team as well as the U.S., which has not named a permanent replacement for Bruce Arena. In Colombia, talk is already rampant that he will take over for Jose Pekerman.
What is more certain is that his time in charge of El Tri appears to be over, given his arrival to Russia amid already high disapproval ratings from fans who had asked for his dismissal as recently as Mexico's appearance at Azteca Stadium before the World Cup.
Osorio achieved the exact same result as his recent World Cup predecessors, including Miguel Mejia Baron (1994), Manuel Lapuente (1998), Javier Aguirre (2002), Ricardo La Volpe (2006), Javier Aguirre (2010) and Miguel Herrera (2014). All failed to reach that elusive fifth game, the bar that has measured Mexico in this competition.
Marquez, the eternal captain
Mexico's exit is also a farewell to its icon of recent decades. Rafael Marquez's participation in Russia brought his tally to five World Cups and placed him alongside the legendary Antonio "La Tota" Carbajal.
Beyond his legal issues -- he was one of 22 people sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as a result of a multiyear drug trafficking investigation -- Marquez had an impeccable career on the pitch.
"The Captain" started his development abroad with French club Monaco, with which he won a Ligue 1 title and two other trophies. At Barcelona, he conquered two Champions Leagues, four league titles, three Spanish Super Cups, two World Cup of Club titles and a Copa del Rey. That's to say nothing of his two titles with Mexican side Leon.
In his successful run through Mexico, Marquez accomplished a Confederations Cup title (1999), two Gold Cups (2003, 2011) and a CONCACAF Cup, capping his extraordinary track record. He will undoubtedly go down as one of the five greatest Mexican soccer players of all time and an international idol. Marquez himself indicated before Russia that this would be his last World Cup as a player.
Mexico's outlook shines brightly through the winds of change. The transition will certainly provide solid footing for a new generation of players as well as a coach who seeks to elevate El Tri to the highest international levels. After all, the goal of its millions of dedicated fans is to see Mexico shift from also-ran to protagonist.
After the elimination, there can be no doubt that El Tri will have a different look for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.