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The Virginian — Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)
MEXICO CITY — The NFL's decision to move the regular-season game between Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams because of poor conditions to the turf at Azteca Stadium left many Mexicans disappointed, angered and wondering how it will affect the relationship with the league.
After consulting with the players association and local officials, the NFL determined the conditions did not meet the standards for playability and moved the game to the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Rams and Chiefs, both 9-1, will meet Monday night in a much-anticipated game between the top teams in each conference.
Based solely on records, the game was going to be the best matchup ever played outside the United States.
But Mexico blew it.
"Colossal shame" was the headline of the sports newspaper Record. "The league takes away the best game of the season due to the lousy state of the field that Estadio Azteca was not able to fix.."
Azteca officials changed the playing surface from natural grass to a hybrid in May, but the turf hasn't been ideal for several months due to its intense use. Since July 21, America and Cruz Azul, the two Liga MX teams that share the stadium, have played 23 games in the stadium, and the women's professional team from America has played seven games there.
The stadium also hosted two concerts by Shakira on Oct. 11 and 12, and another one from music channel Telehit on Nov. 7 that left the field in its worst condition in years.
"I feel devastated, angered and ashamed, all of that together," said former NFL kicker Raul Allegre, who is Mexican and works as an analyst for ESPN Deportes. "I'm still trying to figure out how small minds were so irresponsible in the preparations for a game of this magnitude. ... This is a great event not only for the sport but for the country, and it is inconceivable how it was taken so lightly."
According to an NFL study released last year, the game between Oakland and Houston in 2016 generated a $45 million impact on the local economy. The Mexican government said that last year's game between the Raiders and New England topped that number.
"Our fans in Mexico are among the most passionate, dedicated NFL fans anywhere in the world," said Mark Waller, the league's executive vice president of International. "We share the disappointment of not being able to play this game as planned in Mexico City,"
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