Real Salt Lake made their mark in Mexico this week. Playing in front of a stadium filled with people in striped jerseys with “Bimbo” (a Mexican bread company) on the front, the team from Salt Lake found a way to place two goals into the back of the net. Watching this all unfold from the upper rows of the stadium was exhilarating and satisfying.
The Salt Lake Chamber business delegation has accomplished many great things this week for the Utah economy, but none more valuable than the good will that has been shared with our Mexican neighbors. One moment at the game captured this in a simple and powerful way.
Fabio Demelo is a senior executive with an international company headquartered in Salt Lake City called High Protection Company. Fabio is a U.S. citizen with Brazilian roots. He carries a spirit about him that we would all do well to emulate.
Fabio was sitting on the front row of our protected box area wearing a RSL jersey and cheering for our team the whole game. And let me tell you–that took some serious guts. Wearing visitor colors in a fan-crazed Latin American stadium is not for the faint of heart.
At the end of the game a Monterrey fan asked Fabio to exchange jerseys, a time-honored tradition in soccer. As a gesture of good will, players or fans shake hands at the end of a match and swap jerseys.
Fabio went to a fence separating our fans from theirs and threw his jersey over the fence. The Rayadas fan did the same.
The moment captured in an instance what this trade mission has been all about — making a personal connection with our southern neighbors.
The challenge that I give to other Salt Lakers is to welcome the Rayados to our city next week. But it’s more than that. We need to engage in a more civil, compassionate and constructive discussions with our neighbors to the south.
We need to swap more jerseys with Mexico.