Laser pointers are Mexico's unwanted annoyance at sporting events

Most of the Mexico fans at Estadio Azteca behaved well, but one major issue with some fans using laser pointers could have ramifications. Erich Schlegel/USA TODAY Sports

MEXICO CITY -- Although it was played more than 2,000 miles away from their usual home base, the Oakland Raiders enjoyed a healthy majority of the crowd support at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City for Monday Night Football, giving them a true home-field advantage in their eventual 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans.

The pro-Raiders crowd mostly displayed the cheers and encouragement the NFL has come to expect, save for a green laser pointer that followed Houston QB Brock Osweiler for much of the night.

"There were multiple times when I saw a laser that came from the stands and there were definitely some times it hit me in the eye," Osweiler told ESPN Mexico's Luis Miguel Vasavilbaso. "I could not say that made the difference, but definitely having a laser pointing at your eye undoubtedly affects how you play a game."

And during the broadcast, the laser was also mentioned, and viewers were informed that NFL security had been looking for the culprit throughout the game. However, the fan was not found, and the incidents persisted until the end. Osweiler refused to credit the fan as a definitive reason why Houston dropped the game, but per ESPN's Sarah Barshop, he said that "having a laser zoomed in on your eyeball definitely affects how you play."

Much was made of the security measures being implemented ahead of the Raiders-Texans game in Mexico City, with some comparing the security levels to that of a Super Bowl. Despite that, one fan made his way through countless police checkpoints and metal detectors with the laser pointer, an item often present in other sporting events that Estadio Azteca usually hosts.

It is even common to see vendors selling the pointers mere blocks away from the stadium. In recent years, they've become part of the vending landscape prior to a big event. They are on par with scalpers, vendors selling jerseys -- both authentic and fake -- and those with carts full of street food.

Though Liga MX -- Mexico's top soccer league -- and its international governing body, FIFA, expressly forbid fans from interfering from the game, use of the pointers is difficult to enforce at the domestic level. Oft-times in soccer, the devices are directed at opposing goal keepers or the referees.

However, both Mexican fans and journalists watching the contest expressed their concern with how the laser could affect the NFL and other leagues from coming back to the country. Prior to the game, NFL Mexico director Arturo Olivé was clear about things needing to happen flawlessly in order to maintain the attraction. "Everything needs to go off perfectly. The teams need to leave here being very happy about what happened in Mexico," he said, according to El País.

This was the first NFL regular-season game played in Mexico since the Arizona Cardinals faced off against the San Francisco 49ers in 2005.

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