Mexico apparently will be going to this summer’s World Cup in Brazil without its best player.
Striker Carlos Vela, who hasn’t played for his country in three years because of a dispute with the former Mexican coach Jose Manuel de la Torre and the national soccer federation, declined a personal plea from new Coach Miguel Herrera and other team officials on Monday.
Herrera and his staff met with the 24-year-old in Madrid, where he was playing for La Liga side Real Sociedad. But even though De la Torre was fired in September, Vela has apparently not softened his stance.
“Therefore,” the Mexican federation said in a statement, “Carlos Vela will not be called up.”
Vela responded with a letter, also released Monday.
“In this process that has been developing for the next World Cup, I have not been 100% mentally ready to represent [Mexico] -- or form part of the representation -- and give it the maximum it deserves,” he wrote.
Vela, who played in the 2010 World Cup, scored nine goals in 35 appearances with the national team. But less than three months after that World Cup, it was announced that Vela and a teammate would be suspended six months for their involvement in a raucous party following a friendly with Colombia in Monterrey, Mexico. He and 12 other players were also fined nearly $4,000 over the incident.
Vela returned to the national team in February 2011 for a friendly against Venezuela, but after being roundly criticized by the media for poor performances, his relationship with De la Torre and the federation soured and he hasn’t played for El Tri since then, turning down chances to suit up for two Gold Cups and the 2012 Olympics, where Mexico won gold.