On November 20, FIFA initiated its highly anticipated month-long tournament known as The World Cup, which is taking place in Qatar. That means fans of Mexico’s team have been praying to “Soccer Baby Jesus” in hopes of bolstering the team’s chances of capturing the coveted trophy.
The tournament invited 32 teams around the globe to compete for the coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy. The United States’ team is scheduled to face competing teams from Wales, England, and Iran to determine their fate in the next round.
Mexico’s team is favored this year to outperform about 50 percent of competing teams. The team and fandom is also known for a years’-long tradition that, for some, seems to have originated from scene straight out of the movie “Talladega Nights.” The film is a comedy where Will Ferrell’s character prays to “Baby Jesus” during a meal with his family.
Instead of the “Baby Jesus” Ferrell’s character prays to, team Mexico fans have been praying to a statue of “Soccer Baby Jesus” located in Mexico City’s San Miguel Arcangel church since 1970.
Soccer fans pray to a figure that’s supposed to represent the Christ Child, who is dressed in knee-high soccer socks and Mexico’s national soccer team jersey. The figure holds Mexico’s flag while sitting in a small, throne-like golden chair. Praying fans hope it will bring a win for the team in the World Cup.
“Soccer Baby Jesus” is so widely recognized it is considered to be the “twelfth starter” for the team.
“What is the reason? Well, to ask for the same thing—for a miracle to happen—because the fans would like the team to reach the final,” says church sexton Ernestina Volado. “But I heard them say at least (get) to the fifth match.”
One parishioner told CBS News that he believes if Mexico’s team puts their will into it, they can achieve great things.
However, not everyone agrees that praying to a “Soccer Baby Jesus” statue is biblical practice. One commenter on Facebook called the fans’ practice a form of idolatry: “Idolatry – idolizing a sport. Definitely not a biblical practice.”
Another wrote: “That’s actually sad and pathetic.” Someone else added: “Jesus has more important things than soccer.”
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