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Club America, Famed Mexican Soccer Team, Plays Glendale Despite SB 1070

Last year one of Mexico's most revered soccer teams cancelled its game in Glendale in opposition to Arizona's immigration law, Senate Bill 1070.

Now that the most controversial elements of the law are tangled up in federal court, Club America's management has decided to come to Arizona and play at the University of Phoenix Stadium against Monarcas Morelia on July 10.

This year, failed Arizona politician Stuart Starky and his partner Adrian Quintero are promoting the game. Together, they convinced Club America to play in Glendale.

Quintero said that holding the event during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game weekend, which begins July 10, is intended as a message to the anti-immigrant crowd.

"The idea is that [Hispanics] can support the local economy," he says. "The Arpaios and Pearces of the world have always put us in the shadows, but we have left our mark in the economy [of Arizona]."

The promoter of last year's match-up said that Club America's management did not want to put its players in a state it believed might harass them because of an anti-immigrant law.

"Club America just didn't want to risk [its] players," Manny Arias, a game promoter, told New Times.
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Quintero said that Club America's management was still wary of coming to the Grand Canyon State, but he and Starky lobbied heavily to convince the team that everything would be okay.

"[Club America] didn't want to come, but we showed them stats [demonstrating] that Arizona has a high Latino population that would appreciate the game," Quintero says.

A University of Phoenix Stadium spokesman did not want to disclose the loss of revenue because of last year's cancellation, but he acknowledged that money was lost because of the law.

"We were disappointed they did not play," says Scott Norton, a flack for the stadium. "We are excited [however] that [Club America] is returning to the market, and Arizona for that matter."

Long-time soccer fan Starky owns the Phoenix Monsoon, a minor league soccer team. He hopes the team will one day qualify for Major League Soccer, the United States' professional soccer league.

He is also a local elementary school teacher who has established business relationships with some of Mexico's soccer managers, thus enabling him to bring prominent teams such as Club America to play in the Valley.

But even with Starky's intention of sending a message to the anti-immigrant crowd, the Phoenix-based human-rights group Puente disagrees with the game being held in Arizona.

After the passage of SB 1070, many groups and politicians, including U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva, called for an Arizona boycott. Grijalva has since reversed his position.

Yet Puente remains true to the boycott. In protest of the game, Puente plans a demonstration outside the UOP Stadium.

"They are massaging the message," says Puente's leader Sal Reza of the game's promoters.

Reza says the only real way to send a message is to boycott the state. Anything less is just "business as usual."

Because of SB 1070, many entertainment events have skipped Arizona. Musical acts have also refused to play the state. 

And Sound Strike, a collective of artists led by Rage Against the Machine front man Zack de la Rocha, continues its boycott of Arizona.

Reza, however, wants to make it clear that Puente's planned demonstration is not a shot at the promoters, much less the Mexican soccer teams.

"This is aimed at the economic lifeline of the most racist state [in the country]," he insists.

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