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An explosion of regional Mexican music arrived on Monday at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City courtesy of Grupo Firme, who headlined the halftime show for the NFL Monday Night Football game in which the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 38-10.
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The return of the NFL to Mexico, as part of the League’s “Por la Cultura” campaign, featured a week-long celebration of pride that transcended borders, as well as the nexus between Mexican culture and American football with activities focused on art, fashion, music, and youth football. The NFL has placed Latin music at the center of its marketing strategy in 2022, kicking off the season with a J Balvin concert and releasing a Por La Cultura mixtape featuring Yandel, El Alfa, Snow Tha Product among others. Latin football fans are the fastest-growing demographic for the NFL and an important audience the league is hoping to grow in the coming years.
Grupo Firme, formed in the northern Mexican city of Tijuana, arrived at the so-called “Coloso de Santa Úrsula,” as the Estadio Azteca is also known, after a massively successful touring year, including their concert at the Zócalo of Mexico City last September that garnered an audience of 280,000, a series of presentations at Foro Sol, a major arena also located in the Mexican capital, and their main stage set at Coachella.
“This is an achievement in our career; we are going ‘at a steady pace’ as we say,” singer Eduin Caz told Billboard Español before the show. “The truth is thad never imagined we’d be part of an event as important as this beautiful night.” (Please see adjusted translation) “It will be something historic, a different audience will know us. They will listen to us and we will give our best.”
The Latin Grammy and Latin Billboard Music Awards winners performed their hits “Ya supérame”, “El amor no fue para mi” and “Gracias,” for the 78,000 NFL fans in attendance. This was the first Monday Night Football game played in Mexico City since 2019, after a forced two-year break because of the Covid-19 pandemic. For the musicians, the presence of the NFL in Mexico is a good opportunity for two communities to honor sports and music without language barriers.
“Something that we have realized and that we are very grateful for is that the public and the people who listen to Grupo Firme are increasingly bicultural. We have already seen people who do not speak Spanish singing at our concerts. It is a blessing for us that this is growing and that opens the door to be at events like this”, said singer Jhonny Caz.
Mexican singer Sofía Reyes was chosen this year to perform the Mexican national anthem and electrified the stadium as soon as she started singing the first verse.
“For me it is an honor to sing the Mexican national anthem and above all to sing it here in my country at an event like this. It’s crazy! I am happy and very grateful,” Reyes told Billboard Español prior to the game.
On the American side, the Mexican-American singer Marisol Hernández “La Marisoul”, from the musical group La Santa Cecilia, performed The Star-Spangled Banner, the United States National Anthem.
“This is my first time at the Estadio Azteca, singing the national anthem of the United States. I feel that my two worlds, my two countries, come together in a beautiful way and I can’t hide my feelings from this experience. For years at La Santa Cecilia we have tried to build musical bridges and I feel that tonight is a great example of this,” said Hernández.
The match in Mexico was the fifth and final of the 2022 International Series, which included three games in London and, for the first time, a game in Munich, Germany. Musical performances from the game at Estadio Azteca on November 21st can be viewed on Mundo NFL’s YouTube channel.