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Success of Mexicos Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional is Good for NFL

What: The New York Giants' invitation of Octavio González to camp and Liga de Fútbol Americano ..



What: The New York Giants' invitation of Octavio González to camp and Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional's expansion to 10 teams are signs that American football's popularity is growing in Mexico.
Why it matters: The National Football League is looking to grow the popularity of football abroad and Mexico is a market that the league has targeted.

Octavio Gonzálezs (@tavogzz93) attempts to latch onto the National Football League (@NFL) have not been via the traditional route.

González did not play for an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (@NCAAFootball) school like the University of Alabama (@AlabamaFTBL) or a Division I Football Championship Subdivision (@NCAA_FCS) like North Dakota State University (@NDSUathletics). Nor did he even play for a Division II (@NCAADII) or Division III (@NCAADIII) school.

The 6-3, 262 pound linebacker from Monterrey, Mexico, who was invited to the New York Giants (@Giants) May mini-camp, played college ball for the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León (UANL) Tigres (@AUTENTICOS_UANL) and currently plays for the Monterrey Fundidores of the Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional (@LFAmex).

Monterrey Fundidores linebacker Octavio González, of the Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional, was invited by the New York Giants to their May mini-camp.

"The [Giants] coaches were impressed with the athletic talent I brought [to camp]," said González in an interview with Fox Sports MX (@FOXSportsMX). "I was practicing at a position I never practiced at before, let alone played before. I did well, to be honest. I felt at the same level as the guys that were there, and Im on the [Giants] short list."

The fact that a professional league now exists in the country can only increase the fan base, and with the NFL bringing back games to Mexico, the popularity has no ceiling.

González sharpened his skill-sets in the LFA, which launched in 2016 with four teams, expanding to six franchises last year. At an April press conference prior to the Tazón México III title game, LFA president Óscar Pérez announced that league would add four more teams, expanding the league to 10 teams for the 2019 season.

"When we started this [2018] season, we said it would be to consolidate and improve the league," said Perez. "This could not be done without the help of the franchisees and I would like to announce, in a very content manner, and with the satisfaction of [a sense of] fulfillment, we are going to expand next season and consolidate ten teams in the Mexican Republic."

The rapid expansion of the league is seen as a sign of the growing popularity of the sport of American football, south of the border.

"The fact that a professional league now exists in the country can only increase the fan base, and with the NFL bringing back games to Mexico, the popularity has no ceiling," said Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) Spanish radio broadcast Tony Alvarez (@Tonyar27).

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Alvarez points outs that football has been popular in Mexico, at the college and university level, since the 1920s, but that support for the sport waned with a lack of professional league.

"The problem was that people only had their universities to cheer on," said Alvarez. "And now, with the creation of the LFA, the opportunity to succeed as a player at the professional level and also to have a league of their own only grows."

The NFL recently turned its attention back towards Mexico after an 11-year hiatus. In 2005, the Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) defeated the San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) 31–14 at Estadio Azteca (@EstadioAzteca) in Mexico City, in front of 103,467 fans, the first regular season NFL game held outside the United States.

Since that game, the NFL has focused on the European market, launching the International Series at Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) in London. The NFL returned to Mexico City, in 2016, with the Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) losing to Oakland Raiders (@RAIDERS), 27-20, in the first MNF game broadcast from outside the United States.

Alvarez believes that the success of the LFA is beneficial for the NFL to gain a foothold in the Mexican market.

The Mexicas (red) defeated the Raptors (white) 17-0 in the Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional's (LFA) Tazón México III championship game, held April 22, 2018, at Estadio Azul in Mexico City.

"The LFA season starts after the NFL season, so it can be a built up every year from fall to spring, and if somehow the two leagues can work some kind of partnership agreement to work together, it would even increase reaching out to the Mexican fan base," said Alvarez. "So far, it seems that the LFA project is working and will work for many years. The NFL will benefit from that because more people will be interested in the sport and everyone wants to be a part of the highest level of competition, from a fan and development standpoint, that being the NFL."

For players like González, the LFA represents a potential springboard to achieve his dream of playing professional American football in the United States.

"I had three years of inactivity and I saw that the league kept growing," said González to Máximo Avance (@maximoavance), who stream all LFA league games. "I saw players that, in their time, they were stars on their (college) teams. So I said, 'why not? I want to return to playing, and maybe I can use this as a trampoline, and good things are happening."

Cover Image: Wikimedia Commons/Equiquinos

Edwin Molina @portada_online

Edwin Molina is a freelance writer and skilled communications professional living in Brooklyn, NY. Molina has worked in media and communications for over 14 years; having covered various sports properties (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, UEFA, LIGA MX, UFC, Bellator, WWE, NASCAR, boxing), athletes, sports franchises, and media coverage on all platforms. Molina has previously written for the Boston Herald, Hispanic Market Weekly, and Molina is a graduate of Boston University as well as earned an M.S. in Sports Management from Columbia University.

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Latin America

Nicaragua opposition figure Chamorro put under house arrest



Police in Nicaragua have placed opposition presidential hopeful Cristiana Chamorro under house arrest.

Prosecutors have accused Ms Chamorro of money laundering, which she denies, and demand she be barred from running in November’s election.

Ms Chamorro is seen by many in the opposition as their best hope of defeating President Daniel Ortega, who is expected to run for a fifth term.

Her mother defeated Mr Ortega in the 1990 presidential poll.

The arrest is the latest in a series of measures which the opposition says are aimed at crushing its chances of defeating the government in the upcoming election.

Who is Cristiana Chamorro?

The 67-year-old journalist comes from one of Nicaragua’s most influential families.

Her father, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, was the editor of newspaper La Prensa, which opposed the autocratic Somoza family that ruled Nicaragua for decades. He was assassinated in 1978.

Violeta Chamorro, her mother, won the 1990 election to become the first female president in Latin America, putting an end to Daniel Ortega’s first 11 years as president.

Cristiana Chamorro had until recently been leading the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, which is focused on press freedom. But she stepped down from the post earlier this year.

On Tuesday, she announced she would seek to become the presidential candidate for the opposition Citizen’s Alliance. The Alliance wants to field one single name in the hope of defeating Mr Ortega.

The president, who has been in power since January 2007, is widely expected to run again, though an official announcement is yet to be made.

How did things get here?

Shortly after Ms Chamorro’s announcement, prosecutors accused her of “abusive management [and] ideological falsehood” during her time at the helm of the foundation.

She has also been charged with “the laundering of money, property and assets, to the detriment of the Nicaraguan State and society”.

The investigation against her was opened in May at the request of the Ortega government. Ms Chamorro says they are trumped up charges to prevent her from challenging the president.

On Wednesday, shortly before Ms Chamorro was due to give a news conference, police raided her home in the capital, Managua, and placed her under house arrest.

What’s the reaction been?

In a statement issued before Ms Chamorro’s arrest, the regional body Organization of American States (OAS), of which Nicaragua is a member, said the country was “heading for the worst possible elections”.

“The use of the prosecutor’s office, injunctions and precautionary measures, the politicised handling of justice and the de facto banning of candidates are in violation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the OAS Charter, the instruments on human rights and of international pacts to which Nicaragua is party,” the statement read.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also condemned the move, saying on Twitter: “Arbitrarily banning opposition leader [Ms Chamorro] reflects Ortega’s fear of free and fair elections. Nicaraguans deserve real democracy.”

Opposition parties in Nicaragua accused the government of “unleashing a witch hunt”, alleging Mr Ortega feared “going to a free, transparent and observed” election.

Meanwhile government-friendly newspapers printed the arrest warrant issued for Ms Chamorro.

What’s the background?

Last December, the legislative, which is dominated by parties allied with the government, passed a law giving the government the power to ban candidates from running for office if they are deemed to be “traitors” to Nicaragua.

The government says the law aims to protect “the independence, the sovereignty and self-determination” of Nicaragua. It claims the country is under threat from imperialist powers in the US and “coup-mongers” within Nicaragua who are determined to overthrow the government.

The opposition alleges that repression has grown since 2018, when anti-government protests swept through the country and were met with a violent police response.

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Latin America

Three abducted Catholic clergy released in Haiti



Three members of the Catholic clergy kidnapped in Haiti earlier month this have been released, officials say.

But seven other people – including a French nun and a French priest – abducted in the town of Croix-des-Bouquets remain in captivity.

The kidnappers had demanded $1m (£722,000) as a ransom payment after they seized the group on 11 April.

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse has vowed to “do everything the law allows” to secure their release.

“Three of the seven clergy kidnapped on April 11 were released,” Father Loudger Mazile, spokesman for the Bishop’s Conference of the island nation, told the AFP on Thursday.

“The French were not released. There were no lay people among those released,” he said.

It is not known whether any ransom has been paid.

The attack happened when the Catholic clergy were on their way to the installation of a new parish priest.

A police source told AFP that a gang calling itself 400 Mazowo was most probably behind the abduction.

Kidnappings have surged in Haiti, with the Catholic Church describing the situation as “a descent into hell”.

While at first well-off business people were the main targets, victims have come from all walks of life. Religious groups have not been spared.

On 1 April, armed men burst into a service at an evangelical church on the outskirts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and abducted the pastor and three other people. The service was being live-streamed on social media at the time.

The four were released three days later after an undisclosed sum was paid in ransom but the brazenness of kidnapping a pastor in the middle of a service shocked many Haitians.

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Latin America

Coronavirus: What’s behind Latin America’s oxygen shortages?



Before the clinic ran out of oxygen, Maria Auxiliadora da Cruz had been showing encouraging signs of progress against Covid-19. On 14 January, her oxygen levels had been above the normal level of 95% but, within hours of being deprived of that vital resource, her stats plummeted to 35%.

At this point, patients would normally be given intubation and oxygen by machine. Instead, the 67-year-old retired nurse died. “It was horrible,” her grieving daughter-in-law Thalita Rocha told the BBC. “It was a catastrophe. Many elderly patients began to deteriorate and turn blue.”

In an emotional video that went viral on social media, she described what was happening at Policlínica Redenção in the northern Brazilian city of Manaus. “We’re in a desperate situation. An entire emergency unit has simply run out of oxygen… A lot of people are dying.”

Brazil has the world’s second-highest Covid death toll with more than 221,000 fatalities. In Manaus, the health system has collapsed twice during the pandemic and deaths doubled between December and January.

Now there are fears the lack of oxygen supplies seen there could unfold elsewhere in Brazil and even in other parts of Latin America, where a second wave of Covid-19, in many countries, is proving to be worse than the first one.

In Peru, some hospitals have been unable to meet the demand brought by a steep rise in cases in recent weeks. As a result, patients’ relatives have had to hunt for oxygen in the black market. In some cases, they come back with nothing.

A black market is also thriving in Mexico, where more than 155,000 have died in the pandemic. To make things worse, there have been reports of thieves taking oxygen cylinders from hospitals and clinics.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) one in five Covid-19 patients will require oxygen. In severe cases, this rises to three in five. The organisation says some hospitals have seen demand for oxygen increase between five and seven times above normal levels because of the influx of patients with severe and critical disease.

The most dramatic situation in the world is in Brazil, where nearly 340,000 oxygen cylinders are needed every day, according to the Covid-19 Oxygen Needs tracker. The online tool helps estimate the scale of the challenge for policymakers and was developed by the Covid-19 Respiratory Care Response Coordination partnership which includes Path and Every Breath Counts.

Also according to the tracker, Mexico and Colombia each need more than 100,000 cylinders daily.

So how does a hospital run out of oxygen?

Oxygen has been considered an essential medicine by the WHO since 2017, but Lisa Smith, from Path’s market dynamics program, says ensuring adequate supply depends on many “components” falling into place.

This includes not only sources of production, but also training to enable medical staff to monitor and manage oxygen levels.1px transparent line

Medical oxygen is produced in large quantities at plants and delivered to hospitals in two ways: either in bulk in liquid tanks or as pressurised gas in cylinders containing smaller volumes.

Liquid oxygen is the cheapest and best technology available but it requires hospitals to have the right infrastructure to pipe oxygen to the patient’s bedside. This is common in developed countries such as the US and those in Europe.

Cylinders do not require pipes and can be delivered to clinics without a sophisticated infrastructure. However, their distribution on a smaller scale means they are less cost-effective, in addition to being cumbersome to transport and handle, which also carries an increased risk of cross-contamination.

Another source of production is on-site oxygen plants, which produce oxygen to be piped or compressed into cylinders. The WHO says it is currently trying to map how many such plants exist in the countries.

After Manaus reached crisis point, oxygen donations were sent from the federal government and other states – as the local providers said they were unable to increase production – and across the border from Venezuela. But even transporting them became a problem.

Jesem Orellana, an epidemiologist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, said the risk of shortage continued and was exacerbated by global demand.

According to Path, medical oxygen accounts for just 5-10% of the world’s oxygen production. The rest is used in various industries, such as mining, chemical and pharmaceutical.

“We need to think about oxygen as much as we think about electricity, water or other essential utilities,” says Ms Smith. “This can’t be something that we’re only concerned about when it’s bad, because when it’s bad, people will die.”

In the meantime, there are concerns that the strain of Covid-19 on oxygen supplies could have a knock-on effect for the treatment of other diseases.

“Covid has shown us just how essential it is in countries where there is no vaccine against Covid, no medicines,” says Leith Greenslade, who leads the Every Breath Counts Coalition. “Often, it’s down to whether you get oxygen or not, whether you live or die.”

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