Long live the revolution! Mexico’s “Red Butts” are local 49ers fans who are passionate about the NFL

MEXICO CITY – Sunday was busy in one of the largest cities in the world.

It was Revolution Day, celebrating the beginning of the Mexican Revolution 112 years ago, and a long parade, with delegations from each Mexican state on horseback and military representatives, rolled down Paseo de la Reforma through Chapultepec Park.

Sunday was also the start of the World Cup, an event revered and embraced by the Mexicans, who are arguably the most enthusiastic
fans on the planet. The opening match between Ecuador and hosts Qatar was watched across the city, including in major stadiums.

But for a dedicated group of fans of a different kind of football, Sunday marked the day before the day they’ve circled on their calendars for months: the day the San Francisco 49ers will play at the Estadio Azteca.

“I was so excited all weekend,” said Juan de Dios Carrillo Ramirez, who traveled from Xicotepec with his wife and two young sons to attend his first 49ers game. Over his George Kittle jersey, he wore a 49ers jacket that belonged to his father, the man who taught his son to love the Joe Montana and Jerry Rice team.

“I’m a 49ers fan because of my dad,” Carrillo Ramirez said, sharing a photo of his collection of 49ers memorabilia arranged almost like a shrine in his home. “I wear this jacket to honor him.”

The Carrillo Ramirez family – 6-year-old Juan Junior rocking a Frank Gore jersey – were part of a crowd that thronged the cheekily named Pinche Gringo BBQ, a restaurant also known as La Casa de los 49ers.

Futbol may be king in Mexico and the national team plays Poland on Tuesday morning, but on Sunday not a single El Tri jersey could be found in the sea of ​​Montana, Rice, Garoppolo, Gore, Warner, Kittle, Young, Hufanga and Owens- jerseys.

“To me, Monday night’s 49ers is a lot bigger than Tuesday’s World Cup,” said Mauricio Aquino, 32. “I like soccer, but I love American football. That’s my sport.”

Aquino was 15 the last time the 49ers played Arizona at Azteca. That night in 2005, the crowd of 103,467 was enthusiastic but not particularly knowledgeable about the American game and didn’t seem to have a strong interest in either team.

But 17 years later there is a new generation of die-hard Mexican fans who can watch all the games thanks to streaming platforms and apps. According to Forbes, the NFL is Mexico’s second most popular sport, and the country is home to the league’s second largest fan base outside of the United States.

And where is their loyalty? Studies show that the most popular teams are the Cowboys, Steelers and the 49ers.

“There are a lot of 49ers fans,” said Rosaura Alonso, who wore a Patriots jersey but gave in to her husband Roberto, who wore a Rice No. 80. “The Patriots have a lot too.”

“It’s going to be,” she said, nodding to Roberto, “like his birthday.”

Monday night’s game is technically a Cardinals home game, but it will likely be a 49ers-dominated crowd at Azteca, which was renovated in 2015 and now has an 87,000 capacity. According to third-party provider Vivid Seats, 49ers fans are expected to make up 82% of fans based on ticket sales to Bay Area ZIP codes.

And those numbers probably don’t reflect the dedicated fans in the area: Mexico City is home to four 49ers fan clubs.

In recent years, the 49ers have become one of the best-drawn teams on the road. Fan takeovers of SoFi Stadium – home of the Rams – are becoming routine, but fans are showing up practically everywhere. Earlier this season, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper complained after a home game, “Unfortunately, there were too many red asses on the pitches.”

The Red Butts have arrived in Mexico.

“We’re from the Denver Chapter,” said Michelle Gutierrez, who wore a 303 Niner Empire jersey. “We go to all the games”

She was dating her Phoenix-based husband Michael and boyfriend Andy Huerta. Strangers a few years ago, they’ve become “like family” due to their loyalty to the 49ers and their trips across the country to see their team.