Why is it called Mexican Wave? Origins explained

The Mexican wave is a common phenomenon that fans are keen to take part in at the World Cup

Mexican waves are making their way across football stadiums across Qatar as thousands of fans gather to cheer on their country during the 2022 World Cup.

The Mexican Wave has been seen in a variety of sporting events since the 1980s including American football, baseball, and hockey. While music lovers are also seen taking part in Mexican surf at concerts and festivals.

The Mexican Wave is a powerful phenomenon that can bring huge crowds of people together in unison. According to the Oxford Dictionary, “A Mexican wave is a moving wave-like effect produced by successive sections of the crowd in a stadium as they stand up, raise their arms, lower them and then sit down again.”

Most sports fans around the world will have watched or participated in Mexican wave at some point in their lives. But where does this tradition come from and how did it become so popular around the world?

Here is everything you need to know.

Why is it called the Mexican wave?

This phenomenon is known as the Mexican Wave in the United Kingdom due to its association with the 1986 World Cup. Mexico hosted the tournament and at that time became the first country to host the event on more than one occasion.

Most sports historians claim that the wave began to emerge internationally during competition. The 1986 World Cup was broadcast to audiences all over the world and for many people outside of North America, it was the first time they had experienced the wave.

Mexico reached the quarter-finals of the tournament in 1986 and it was their joint best performance at a World Cup – tying the previous record set in 1970 when they also hosted the event.

Mexico have managed to exit the group stage in all of their last seven tournaments since 1994. However, they have notably been knocked out of the tournament at the same stage on all seven occasions during the Round of 16. To surpass this record this time in Qatar.

How do you know the Mexican wave around the world?

The term Mexican Wave has been commonly used around the United Kingdom since the 1986 World Cup but is known by a number of different names around the world.

In the United States it is known simply as “The Wave”, while in Mexico it is known as “La Ola” which also translates as The Wave.

Origins of the Mexican Wave

Although the Mexican Wave came to prominence in the 1980s, it had only become popular in North America about a decade before the 1986 World Cup.

There is some debate about the exact origins of the tradition but it is believed to date back to the late 1970s during sporting events in North America. The first video of the wave was seen in 1981 during a nationally televised baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees. American fans Crazy George Henderson credit fans in the United States with creating the wave.

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