Mexican federation: Masks banned from soccer field

August 17, 2006

MEXICO CITY -- Fans of Mexican soccer will no longer be asking "Who was that masked man?" after players score goals.

The Mexican soccer federation has instituted a ban to halt the recent trend of players celebrating by donning masks, often similar to those used by professional wrestlers.

The FMF adopted the policy two weeks ago, calling for a yellow card for any player who pulls on a mask during a match. No player has yet drawn such a penalty.

The practice came to the world's attention during the World Cup on June 15, when Ecuadorean player Ivan Kaviedes celebrated a goal during his team's 3-0 victory over Costa Rica by pulling a yellow mask out of his shorts and putting it over his head.

Players like Chiapas Jaguars' goalkeeper Omar Ortiz had a habit of celebrating goals by donning a mask similar to one worn by the pro wrestler known as "Blue Demon," and Gabriel Pereira of Mexico City's Cruz Azul squad did the same with a mask like that worn by "Mistico," another pro wrestler.

Professional wrestling is a highly popular spectacle in Mexico.

The new ban in Mexico has drawn some protests. Before their most recent match, all 11 Chiapas players took the field wearing wrestling masks, but were not sanctioned because the match had not yet started.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press