For Mexico, Action On The Pitch Means Stillness In The Streets

Mexico took to the field on the second day of the World Cup, and the nation shut down to watch. Nearly everyone, from vendors to politicians, took the day off to watch their team beat Cameroon 1-to-0.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Today is day two of the World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil. Fans of course are geared up, and when the team takes to the field, the nation it represents grinds to a halt. Mexico is no exception. The country played and won its first World Cup match today, beating Cameroon 1-nil. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico City, practically everyone, from office workers to politicians, took the day off.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The main board room at Warner Records Headquarters near downtown Mexico City is standing-room only. Those not lucky enough to get a seat crouch on the floor, balancing their overflowing plates of spicy chilaquiles and beans. It's a tense first half. Two of Mexico's goals are disallowed, but Lupe Macedo, the head of finances here, says she's lucky the company lets everyone watch the game. Not all work places are so generous.

LUPE MACEDO: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: She says some won't even let workers use the Internet to watch, so many just call in sick. And not just workers took the morning off, so did the national Senate. Here in Mexico, soccer can be as contentious as politics. For the past few days, the leading political parties have been fighting about whether to work during the World Cup, while the Senate hashes out rules for the historic opening of Mexico's state owned oil industry.

SENATOR RABINDRANATH SALAZAR: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: Senator Rabindranath Salazar of the opposition PRD party says he feared everyone would be glued to their TVs and not pay attention to this important debate. After days of wrangling, the hearings went ahead for today, but not until after the game. And it took 61 minutes of play before Mexico scored its winning goal.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

KAHN: The gang at Warner Music offices erupted. Finance Manager Macedo says Mexico is ready to take on host country and soccer powerhouse, Brazil.

MACEDO: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: Macedo says no problem, Mexico has beat Brazil before. And like today, they'll all be back in the boardroom to root. The only difference - the menu will be carnitas. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

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