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Vela says no to El Tri, won’t play at World Cup

CarlosVelaRealSociedad1-Valencia2013 (Getty)


Carlos Vela has turned down a chance to play at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Following a meeting between Vela and Mexico National Team officials including head coach Miguel Herrera and national team director Héctor González Iñárritu, Vela again said that he could not make a 100 percent commitment to El Tri. As a result, the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) said that Vela would not be considered for the World Cup squad.

“(Vela) expressed once more that he isn’t 100 percent emotionally and mentally ready to play at the World Cup,” read a statement from the FMF. “During the meeting, Miguel Herrera confirmed that there would be no compromises without a commitment to play for El Tri. So in short, Carlos Vela will not be called-up for the World Cup.”

The 24-year-old Vela made waves in 2011 by refusing a call-up from then-El Tri manager Jose Manuel de la Torre for the 2011 Gold Cup, and he hasn’t accepted a call-up since. Following de la Torre’s dismissal last September, it was thought that Vela could return to the national team, but Vela stuck to his stance and remained with club Real Sociedad for the World Cup qualifying matches in October and November.

Vela broke onto the scene in 2005 at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, leading Mexico to the title and finishing as the Golden Boot winner. His performances earned him a move from Chivas de Guadalajara to Arsenal, and after a few short loan spells in Spain, he remained in London from 2008 through 2011, though he found it hard to break into the first team. Following a loan in 2011 to Real Sociedad, Vela made the move permanent in 2012 and emerged as a crucial player for the Basque-based club last season, scoring 14 goals in 35 league games.

This season, Vela’s has nine goals in 21 La Liga matches and three more goals in eight UEFA Champions League games. Vela currently has 35 caps for El Tri, though it looks unlikely that he’ll ever earn any more.


What do you think of this news? Surprised that he’s turned down a chance to play at the World Cup? Do you expect him to ever play for Mexico again? Do you think Mexico will miss him at the World Cup?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Vela just needs to go diving off the cliffs of Victoria Falls with spider monkeys like Landon did. He’ll be back just in time for the World Cup.

  2. Dos Santos on Vela: “People are asking why Vela is not on the team,” “Here, he has prestige and he goes to Mexico for what? So they can trash him? And he is going to play under a system that is very different from Real. And those of us who are in Europe take all the blame.”
    Add that with Guardado’s ESPN interview where he complained about going back to Mexico where if he was seen out having a drink it would be in all the papers. There seems to be a real rift between the European players and the Mexican press.

    I think if Vela could have gone to Brazil and not faced any of the Mexican press he might have played. However Herrera most likely thought it would have just made for even more of a circus.

  3. I don’t know if it has been discussed in here yet but I just thought I would bring up that it is MINDBLOWING that Vela is passing on a chance to go to a World Cup. I don’t care about any bickering/fighting he might have had with former Mexico coaches or veteran players, how do you pass up a chance to play in the world’s biggest event?

    It’s the world cup. This even can you get laid without it having to be a prostitute. Come on Vela some players would kill for this chance. Hell if I got called up by Azerbaijan I would play no matter how shite they are!

    He is missing out on some supplemental income, sponsorship deals, chance to sign for a bigger club, and worldwide fame.

    • I hear you, it’s a really dumb move, one which he could very well regret one day. But Mexico doesn’t need him if he is going to act like a diva and possibly alienate the other players.

  4. Vela didn’t refuse to play in the 2011 Gold Cup. He just wasn’t picked.

    He also didn’t refuse to play in the 2011 Copa America. Arsenal didn’t release him.

      • That’s impossible since Vela spent the first three weeks of his vacation training with the Mexican U22 squad that was getting ready for Copa America (without being asked to) in order to show de la Torre his commitment to the national team. Wenger stated that since Mexico was not a CONMEBOL member, Arsenal would not grant Vela permition to participate. The FMF gambled on using Vela for Copa America but forgot how pissed off Wenger was with the Mexican NT doctors for not submitting a detailed and correct medical report following Vela’s injury in the first game of the 2009 Gold Cup. Turns out the injury he picked up was more serious than reported by the Mexican NT doctors. Which in turn means he shouldn’t have played the final of 2009 Gold Cup. I wonder how we would have faded in that game had Vela not taken part in the rout.

  5. wait are you telling me professional soccer players get paid to play in the World Cup?

    no wonder MLS players wanna play in friendlies

  6. Grant wahl on twitter posted a letter by carlos vela and i skimmed throught it and he says that it would not be just and it would be unfair for him to tale someones world cup spot without him attributing a single minute to mexicos qualification

    • I wish I could believe this, but my opinion is he refused because he would not be a starter under Herrera. Herrera is set in his ways at times and I do not see him placing Vela in the first 11. However even with a willing Vela, he has not been a regular part of Mexico since 2011 so I see little hope in integrating him up to the potential in such short time anyway. Point is Mexico loses a guy who could have made an impact, but at this point there was not enough time for him to be the savior some want him to be.

  7. Even though they show up it really seems like number of the players in Spain don’t want to be playing for Mexico either. Guardado in so many words pretty much said he didn’t like even going back to Mexico because of the press. The way Dos Santos played just showed how little he cared. Mexico so bad you almost have to wonder if some of them were trying to throw it. If I was Herrera I would just take a domestic squad to Brazil.

    • The players lost confidence in Chepo and stopped caring I think, however under Herrera, and in a World Cup, they should start to care again.

  8. I’m sure if he were to join up after the hell of qualifications that his teammates may not welcome him with open arms. Besides, Mexico has plenty of excellent forwards. I would rather see de Nigris play then Vela.

  9. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. He seems to have made it big in Spain, probably has a big contract in front of him, so why put that at risk by playing extra games for a team he isn’t that into. Besides, aside from all of the childhood fantasies associated with the WC the real winners are FIFA and the national federations and why bust your butt to enrich them? Not saying that I would pass up the chance if I were in his shoes but I’m not shocked that somebody has.

    • Don’t players make bank at the WC? Something like at least $500K per player at the WC even if they crash out at the group stage, with more the further they go.

      I mean for 2 months work (tops)…seems like a good deal to me. Plus there is the media exposure if you play well that is only positive. Quite a few mediocre players have had a good few games and upped their standings to a much better team.

      • It really depends which Federation you are doing well. From what I read, USSF has one of if not the most generous packages in the World Cup (almost $1million per player if the team wins the World Cup). I don’t know how much FMF pays out per player.

      • ABurn,

        If Vela went to Brazil and led Mexico on a great run then yes maybe it raises his profile and gets him a big money move to Man City or Barca.

        Then again, maybe Vela feels the chances of that happening, given whatever is going on with him and Mexico are slim to none. Since he is already in La Liga on a team he feels good about and seems to be playing well there, then going to Brazil may not be worth the aggravation. Maybe there is an Harkes/Wynalda situation in the picture.

        Who knows or cares?

        Plus, a lot of experts feel like buying players off of a good World Cup performance is often a bad idea, given the numerous busts.

        Vela is 24, has 14 goals this season across all competitions for a pretty good, high profile team La liga team in Sociedad, is already valued at anywhere from 17-20 million Euros.

        A team like Arsenal could do worse.

    • +1. Players make $ playing and advancing in the WC

      Otherwise good comment. Step aside to make room for someone who wants to be there. And dont bother fighting for a cause you dont support.

      • ill bite.
        they are a joke because the whole federation and country thinks they are a top 10 soccer nation and they constantly prove otherwise. They are a joke because there fans throw piss and puke at other fans. Mostly they barely backed into this cup and if making out of their pretty weak group is an accomplishment then that’s fine. that is as far as they get, no doubt. The US on the other hand has the most difficult group and if they pull it off the momentum will surely push us further than ever

  10. mexico out in the group stage

    why couldn’t we just lose to panama and have them go to the play-offs. It would show Mexico a lesson in being humble

    damn you Zusi

  11. As someone who loves his country and soccer, the idea of turning down a spot in the World Cup is something I can’t even imagine. The team and the federation can’t be that bad since
    Chicharito and other top European based players will likely be going. All I can figure is that Vela is a real head case.

    • Or the sane one.

      Don’t forget, for the New Zealand playoff games the new coach dumped like 3/4th of the team and played Chivas Guadalajara basically. Something is really wrong.

    • DIdn’t Brad Friedel “retire” from USMNT a very young age (similar point in careers if you consider he was goalie). He mainly did it because Keller was favored over him. We as Americans are giving Brad a pass.

      • To be clear, Friedel always said that if there was an emergency and the US needed him to start he would come back.

        To start. Not to play backup.

        But nothing ever came up, Keller was there and Howard was coming on fast.

        No one gave him a pass. He was never really needed. Keepers are different.

      • how can we be sure that Vela didn’t say something like I would like to be the starter. That was what I heard was the issue last time.

        I just feel like Friedel got a pass because he only retired when he saw that Bradley picked Keller above him. Kinda like a hissy fit when saw he was not going to be starting. He only made himself YEARS later when there might have been an injury issue, but only to start. What is that? “I’m only playing if I start. If I do not start, I quit….” Give me a break.

      • It was not a hissy fit,it was business.

        I can’t read minds so I don’t know what Friedel was really thinking but in interviews he gave he indicated that it is different for keepers than outfield players.

        If you don’t start you generally don’t play.

        Guzan for example could spend all that time in Brazil and not play a minute, even though he is as good as Howard.

        That is a lot of wear and tear on you just to provide insurance. That’s a very big sacrifice.

        So Friedel put his career ahead of the US for whom he already had given the best World Cup performance ever by a keeper. And be honest, having him in there in 2006 instead of Keller would not have made any difference.

        And Timmy deserved his 2010 World cup starts even if he did do poorly.

        And since Friedel wound up playing at a high level a lot longer than anyone thought he would, I would say his choice worked out for him.

        If you have a problem with that fine, but I don’t.

      • Listen, I am with you. I don’t begrudge anyone for doing something that is good for them. Clearly, it looks like that is what Vela is doing. He would much rather focus on his club career. I remember reading last summer, that part of the reason he did not want to come was because he really did not want to fly over here if he was not going to get some guaranteed playing time. I just think it’s funny people are riding him hard when no one is doing the same to Brad.

        So he doesn’t want to play international ball so he focus on club ball unless he’s going to get guaranteed playing time. No issues here if that is what he wants.

      • You are right about the similarities. I’m not sure he is better than who they can call up now and even if he is it’s not like it is huge upgrade.

        Plus if there are any sort of tensions with either the staff or the players, that’s like being trapped on Survivor for a month and hating everyone else.

        Maybe Vela is doing them a favor and removing a potentially polarizing figure from the team equation.

        Vela’s a big boy and I’m sure he had his big boy pants on when he made this decision. Life is too short.

  12. This is bad for CONCACAF, we want our teams to play well at the WC and without him it is really hard to see Mexico doing much. He is the most talented player in their player pool and is playing great at the club level.

    • No it’s not. CONCACAF will survive. It’s importance will grow once every kid in AMERICA is playing soccer and the USA becomes a consistent quarter-final or better performer

      • CONCACAF is more than just the US, we need other countries to continue to improve so the competition level is increased. Also when a federation performs badly in the WC they could lose spots in the future

      • That’s pretty short sighted. We need CONCACAF to be strong for us to a) get better, b) get recognition for playing in a strong region.

        I want Mexico to be good. It makes it that much sweeter when we beat them 2-0 next time!!!

      • It’s a shame things couldn’t be worked out with Vela at some point, but 3 months prior to WC? He hasn’t been a part of the picture there for a while now and him coming back was a longshot. He is undoubtedly a quality player but not a savior by any means… there is really no telling how he would have fit in anyhow. The hope that he would come in and save the day is more a reflection of desperation born out of a rough year for Mexico than it is Vela as a player. Mexico certainly has enough talent to over come a single player going AWOL. Their problems don’t come from a lack of quality talent, but poor chemistry and fitting the pieces together in a cohesive T E A M. Bringing in Vela at this point sure doesn’t sound like a good way to improve on that.

      • Obviously it is bad for Mexico which is why its bad for CONCACAF as a whole, not sure how people are being so narrow minded about this. A strong federation is better for the US than a weak one.

      • Hes arguably the best player in the region, not sure the “get over it” is needed, no need to be a jerk here.

      • They dont stand a chance at the world cup?? Their chances look much better than the US. Aside from brazil, who is one of the favorites to win the whole tournament, the other teams are for the most part evenly matched. That second place spot is literally anyones guess

      • Getting out of a weak group does not make Mexico good. They may not even get out. New Zealand , Korea B side will not be in their group.

      • If mexico gets back to their 2011-2011 form, they shouldnt have too much trouble besting croatia and cameroon. And i wouldnt call the group weak. Every team in there is respectable. And mexico destroyed both those teams just like a respectable side should have. But my point was that the Jayare above said mexico stood no chance at their group. Most people would agree that everyone minus brazil is evenly matched

  13. There is something seriously, seriously wrong in the Mexican soccer federation that we aren’t seeing or being told about. There is no way this much wild dysfunction happens without catalysts. Is there a doping ring? Is a cartel fleecing players?

    Over the past few years Mexico has gone from the federations powerhouse to… New Zealand playoffs. Along the road, several players have refused to play for the team, entire teams have been caught in doping scandals and prostitution scandals, stories about players families being extorted regularly by Mexican police and cartels.

    What aren’t we hearing about?

    • I think there is something wrong with Vela,
      His Ego must be the size of the moon. I think he is just a huge prima Donna, and probably wants special treatment because he thinks he has FMF over a barrel.

      I dont think FMF wants to play his games, and I say good for them, the guy must have a very bad attitude.

      • Vela said he could consider playing for Mexico but they had go agree to his stipulations. What stipulations? I wonder what those were? Tell Piojo who he wants on the field? Make substitutions? Play all 90 minutes? Take all penalties, corners, free-kicks? LLOOLL The guys is a nut

    • I remember reading something about possibility of Vela being detained if he came back to Mexico due to his lack of paying child support. Though I never heard anything about that since.

    • Essentially, he didn’t get along with de la Torre and was also butt hurt over the mexican media’s criticisms while he was playing for them. He’s been saying no for over a year. they should have stopped kissing up to him months ago, but he is doing good in Spain.

  14. wow…how does a soccer player turn down a World Cup trip? kids grow up dreaming of that chance… were they going to make him crawl on his knees and beg for forgiveness in front all of Mexico? unreal

    • Its interesting that Vela grew up wanting to play basketball and didn’t really care much about playing soccer, maybe his dream was to play in the nba and win some finals.

      • Yes, I also heard that. Perhaps he should retire from football and sign up for the Mexico national basketball team, heh.

  15. Count me surprised, I thought the FMF would have come back begging and Vela wouldn’t have been able to turn down the cash and the exposure of the WC. FMF must be more backward then I thought.

    El Tri fans must be having a meltdown right now, most starting 11s had “the king of Spain” penciled in. Now with Vela out, and Chicharito riding pine at Utd, their hopes rest on Peralta.

    But hey, they only have to beat Croatia and Cameroon to advance…before honorably bowing out to Spain or the Netherlands, will be considered a successful WC for them assuming that happens.

    • “they only have to beat Croatia and Cameroon to advance” … sounds simple, but that will require them to score in BOTH games. Considering their “goal scoring” last year outside of the New Zealand games, I’m not real certain they actually will score vs. both C. & C.

      As to why Vela may not be able to commit 100% … I’m thinking it’s the loss of his only real break between Summer 2013 and Summer 2015, the total amount of travel required since he’s based in Europe, and probably one or more reasons that are just personal.

      • Sarcasm at play. I am surprised considering El Tri’s awful hex that most of its fans (and a lot of major media publications) have penciled in Brazil and Mexico to make it out of the group stage. I think people were convinced that Vela would play, Chicharito would start scoring, and dos Santos would show up for the WC squad and smooth sailing. Highly doubtful.

        And let’s not even start talking about the back line resting its hopes on Rafa Marquez.

    • “Now with Vela out, and Chicharito riding pine at Utd, their hopes rest on Peralta.”
      Giovani dos Santos says hi, the guy has practically the same stats as Carlos Vela playing in a similar position and his team is above Real Sociedad.

      • Bingo. I understand that part of the reason Vela is giving for not getting on the train is that since he sat out (very publicly) the qualifying process, he would be detrimental to team chemistry…it wouldn’t be fair to the guys that were part of the process.

        Vela isn’t the key European based player for Mexico, I think that Dos Santos is. Between Peralta, Chicharito, Raul Jimenez, and whoever else is hot they’ll manage in the “pure striker”role. The dude that has to be there to create havoc and break down defenses is dos Santos. When dos Santos is on he makes the rest of the team better.

      • Vela is much more instrumental to a team. Gio is an attacker, he gets his goals and assists though speed, agility and explosiveness. Vela is a playmaker who plays on the wing. His football intelligence is way higher. He can control the tempo of the game and its something Mexico needed.

      • The same kind that has been inextricably coupled with every Mexican government since the revolution in 1910 and before.

      • I read that they even used the argument that Salcido is no longer in the team in order to try to convince him to return; because Salcido had threathened him for said snitching.

      • You dont know what you’re talking about. Yes the government is corrupt but your government is in it so shut the freak up. this is about soccer and him being a little lady and not wanting to be part of the team.

      • Yeah, no. This deserves a response.

        For all its failings, the United States government does not remotely come close to the inexplicable corruption of the Mexican government.

      • No, it’s not. By most measures the US has a low-corruption government. Google “Corruption Perception Index.”

        Disagreement about policy is not the same as corruption.

      • Just because our institutions have made it more difficult to measure doesn’t mean there’s any less of it. We just don’t do it as directly and obviously. Arguably our entire lobby based policymaking system is institutionalized corruption.

      • The US government is perhaps the most corrupt the world has ever seen. However, since it is also the most powerful, very few have the cojones to call them on it.

        But which government is worse discussion is a irrelevant question, it’s like asking which gang is worse, blood or crips?

      • Miguel, if you believe the US government is in the same ball park – nay, on the same planet – as Mexico vis-à-vis corruption, I’ll direct you to the, which tracks and indexes corruption at the national level.

        Mexico ranks 107th of 177 countries on the corruption index. The US ranks 19th. Lower ranked countries have higher rates of perceived corruption. Mexico is not the worst, but it’s among those developing countries from which we would expect such levels of corruption (Niger, Kosovo, Bolivia, etc.).

        You better believe that same culture of governmental corruption pervades the football association and any number of national organizations.

        The US, by contrast, gets high marks for transparency. It ranks among Japan, Uruguay, Ireland, Hong Kong, etc.).

        Don’t get mad. Get educated.

      • Late to the party…but what? Don’t be so naive Ian, the US Government and CIA have had non-transparent, often especially harmful operations in every single South American country as well as a handful of Central American and Caribbean countries. Let alone outside of the Americas. And this has been happening for years, of course.

      • No, that is not good, but bad foreign policy is not corruption. Heck, the majority of Americans and congress supported the Iraq invasion in 2003. Explain that to me.

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