Tata Martino, John Herdman laugh off on-field verbal confrontation

Once passions had cooled, both coaches were ready to joke about their shouting match in Wednesday’s 3-1 Mexico win over Canada

There are no hard feelings between Mexico manager Tata Martino and Canada manager John Herdman, though you could’ve been fooled Wednesday night.

At the half-hour mark of the teams’ Group A match, Martino approached fourth official Randy Solano to lobby for a Canada midfielder to be booked for persistent infringement. Herdman entered the discussion, prompting Martino to direct some choice words toward the coach, who tossed out some words of his own and gesticulated toward Martino.

Replay appears to show Martino utilizing an Argentine swear referring to Herdman’s mother, and the managers didn’t shake hands after the whistle blew on Mexico’s 3-1 victory over Canada.

Martino did, however, approach the bench to shake hands with other members of the Canada staff, and neither manager was upset about the confrontation once passions had cooled after the contest.

“He’s a great coach,” said Herdman, who took over the Canada men’s team in 2018 after seven years coaching the women’s national team. “I don’t speak Spanish. I think he was asking how my new role was going. So I just said, ‘Yeah, it’s going well.’ I asked him if he’s enjoying his job,” he continued, laughing. “That was it. We got on with the game. He won and I lost.” 

Martino also played up the language barrier when asked what happened between the two coaches.

“He told me a joke. I answered the joke,” Martino said in Spanish. Asked what the joke was, the coach said, “I didn’t understand it well because it was in English.”

Later in his post-match news conference, Martino was again asked about the incident, but this time the question came in English. “That’s what happened to me with the Canada coach,” Martino joked.

Martino took over the Mexico job in January and has a perfect record so far with six wins in six matches. El Tri have scored at least three goals in each of those games. Martino’s predecessor, Juan Carlos Osorio, was banned from the touchline for the 2017 Gold Cup after a pair of incidents in that summer’s Confederations Cup earned him a six-match suspension.

The first saw him launch profanity at a member of the New Zealand staff he felt was mocking an injured player during a group game. The second saw him ‘used insulting words towards the match officials while displaying an aggressive attitude towards them,’ according to a FIFA statement, in a the third-place game against Portugal.

Martino and Herdman could see each other again this summer, with Mexico and Canada able to meet in the semifinals of the tournament. First, each coach will look for his team to cement a spot in the quarterfinals. Mexico meets Martinique and Canada takes on Cuba on Sunday in the final day of Group A play.

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