Sports diplomacy in the trump era

These Mexican-American twins are separated by jerseys and united by love

Monica and Sabrina Flores captured the internet’s heart last weekend when they faced each other during a soccer match between the U.S. and Mexico in the Women’s Sub-20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea.

The 20-year-old twins, who were born in New Jersey to a Mexican father and an American mother, chose to play for different national teams: with Monica joining Team Mexico, and Sabrina suiting up for Team U.S.A.

Off the field, the sisters both study medicine at the University of Notre Dame, and are virtually inseparable. But they put on different jerseys last Friday when their teams squared off in the soccer tournament.

“Our parents generally don’t suffer,” Monica told FIFA before the match. “Quite the contrary, they get excited and equally support the two of us. What they want is for us to have a good game.”

Their story became an international sensation when TV cameras caught Sabrina trying to cheer up Monica after the U.S. beat Mexico 2-1.

The match has been hailed as a much-needed example of sports diplomacy, as U.S.-Mexico relations chill in the wake of Donald Trump’s win in the presidential election.

With economic and political relations uncertain, soccer could become an increasingly important part of keeping the U.S.-Mexico relationship strong. It already is. The U.S. and Mexico men’s soccer teams faced each other in a heated yet brotherly match three days after the U.S. elections.

And now Monica and Sabrina remind us that sisterly love is also stronger than nationalist rhetoric.

 

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