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The tributes were beautiful, and full of energy, just like Mo.
Bright flowers, drums, and vigil candles were arranged as a shrine in front of the gates of Banc of California stadium. Flags were hung by the gates, surrounding an enlarged action shot of Mo in the North End. In the afternoon, a mariachi band played songs for more than an hour, some mournful, some bursting with life. As it got dark, supporters lit flares and smoke bombs, black and gold, letting the smoke drift up into the night sky. Before they left, they picked up the drums and began a new chant, one they never thought they’d be singing, but would now carry in their hearts forever.
Mauri Mauri Querido
Jamás Te Olvidará
Jamás Te Olvidará. We Will Never Forget You.
Mauricio “Mo” Fascio passed away on March 20th after a battle with COVID-19. As a member of LAFC supporters group, District 9 Ultras, and the vice president of LAFC’s umbrella supporter collective, the 3252, Mo’s passing has sent shockwaves through the LAFC community, and the people who loved him are still figuring out which way is up.
“He became a brother,” said Jose “Rey” Salcedo, a founder and representative of District 9 Ultras. “He really embraced the fundamentals, what we have within District 9 Ultras, which are passion, loyalty and brotherhood. He stood by them and believed it so much. It’s been hard, and it’s going to be very hard for us to continue.”
There aren’t enough spaces and places to share the stories of who Mo was and what he meant. Not here or through the many tributes that LAFC supporters have held over the past few weeks. It will never be enough.
But the best place to start is how he used to start with everyone, by enveloping them in a big, smothering hug.
“He was always one of the first people to greet you, whenever you showed up anywhere,” said Jonathan Reimer, a representative of District 9 Ultras. “He was always big about saying hello to people, and he would do so with a very emphatic, meaningful hug. That was sort of his style. He did this with many, many people, even people he barely knew.”
Mo learned the secrets of supporter culture, the dark arts of the trade, from his uncles in Mexico. He understood the nuances of the culture, when to toe the line, when to cross it, and when to mediate.
“He was able to have a foot in the political scene in the public eye for the 3252, and in all of the inner machinations and the things that go on behind the scenes,” said Reimer. “He was just such a wealth of knowledge and experience and personality. It all came together perfectly.”
“He was a person that, even if you went up to him and told him you didn’t agree with something, he would say, ‘I respect your opinion and it’s good you’re bringing it up, because that’s the way we grow,’” said Julio Ramos, a founder and representative of District 9 Ultras. “Some of us don’t like to hear that, when someone doesn’t give you what you want. But he had this special thing about him that would always turn it into a positive moment, no matter what it was.”
He was widely regarded as one of the hardest-working members of the 3252.
“I would be like, the third person to show up to the tailgates,” said Salcedo. “He would already be there, and be like, ‘OK, let me help you, let’s unload this, let’s get this set up.’”
“I still remember when he came to D9,” said Ramos. “Everybody was stunned with the way he was the first one there, the last one to leave. Little by little, he started rising within the ranks of D9. He became the vice president of the 3252 because of his hard work.”
“He represented not only the District 9 Ultras but the 3252, but across the globe with the Independence Supporters Council meetings,” said Salcedo. “He represented everybody as someone that understands the culture, loves the sport, and is willing to take it to another level, and that is special.”
It’s almost as if Mo could see the dream in his head, knew what D9 and the 3252 could mean beyond the field, beyond the stands, as a brotherhood, and had the road map to get there. So he put in the work, and laid the foundations. The late night talks with supporters wrestling with daily life struggles, the even later night drinking sessions where, as the rounds added up, he would still make sure to keep a running list of the operational and administrative tasks the guys rattled off to him, that needed to be knocked out in the coming days.
“He would always tell you the right thing at the right time,” said Ramos. “He had the touch, to tell you the right words, those words that were meaningful.”
Mo was just one week away from receiving his vaccine when he fell ill with COVID.
In the D9 leadership group chat a few weeks earlier, he had been rallying the group, urging everyone to prepare for their vaccinations.
“He was like, ‘You know what, guys? Be ready. Vaccinations are underway, let’s all get it,’” said Ramos.
At first Ramos was hesitant about it. He wanted to wait. But then Mo got sick.
“He was in the hospital, and right away I told him and the rest of the boys, ‘I’m getting my vaccination next week, and the only reason I’m getting it because I don’t want people that I love suffering from this virus,’” he said. “I told Mauricio, I’m sorry I didn’t get it before, but thank you for pushing me to get it.”
With Mo’s mother and sister already passing away from the virus, his District 9 family knew things were serious.
“A couple weeks prior to his passing, things took a turn for the dark,” Reimer said. “There were a lot of organized prayer groups and people going to his local church. We knew he was genetically susceptible, so when he was back in the hospital and then he was intubated, I think it sort of drew the process out. This was certainly not the first person within the LAFC community who had passed from COVID, but as things started to decline, the community got really down. It made everyone take the loss a little harder, when people had rallied together so much over the course of the proceeding weeks to try and pull for him.”
Salcedo had to explain to his young daughters that Mo, the guy who was so full of life, whose arms they jumped in as soon as they arrived at the D9 tailgates, might not be there this season.
“It was heartbreaking,” he said.
Mo passed away on March 20th.
Salcedo still waits for his calls.
“It’s tough,” he said. “To this day, I wake up and I’m like, ‘Well what time am I going to get a call from Mo?’”
When word of his passing spread, an outpouring of support came flooding in, not just among District 9 and the 3252. MLS Commissioner Don Garber paid his respects, while the LA Galaxy offered their support, and Liga MX side León, whom LAFC defeated in the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League, sent their condolences.
“For your rivals to come out and say something is certainly a statement about who he was,” Reimer said. “He touched a lot of people in ways that, it’s something I think a lot of us noticed in the day-to-day, but didn’t really realize how stretched it was until the community came together to celebrate him, and we realized exactly how many people he touched.”
But nothing about grief is clean or easy. Memories of Mo float back to Ramos every day, and it makes him furious.
“I’m angry,” he said. “It’s so unfair that a person like him is gone. He should still be here with us. I get a memory of him every single day.”
“We lost one of our best members,” he said. “But, we have to turn that into something positive. He was a community person, so we’re going to work harder to help the community.”
LAFC will host its first regular season home match on April 17th.
Along with several formal tributes planned for the match, Julio, Rey, Jonathan and the rest of the 3252, will sing their new chant, Mauri Mauri Querido, and wish he was there.
“Mo is going to be with us every single game,” said Salcedo, without a shred of doubt in his voice. “His presence is going to be felt in that stadium every single game, just because of the impact that he made on everybody’s lives and the work that he did.”
For all the confusing things about Mo’s passing, one thing is abundantly clear. The best way to honor him is to fill the space he left with the love and passion he extended to everyone he knew.
“I tell our members, ‘Mo was a funny guy, right? Let’s remember him as a funny guy. Mo would always stretch his arms to give a big hug, right? Let’s do that. He would always welcome you even if he didn’t know you, let’s do the same thing,” said Salcedo. “Let’s keep on building the family. I think one way to honor him is to keep that momentum going, to always talk about him, and always tell people what he did, and for us to step up to the plate and say, ‘The work’s not done, we’ve got to keep going.’”
“He taught us how to be patient with others,” said Ramos. “How to make time for the people that have respect and love for you. I think that sometimes, we as humans can take things like that for granted. It’s very hard, but we’ve got to honor him forever. The way to do it is by continuing his legacy, and just hoping that one day we’ll meet again.”
Mo’s memorial service was held yesterday. For more than 90 minutes, his friends and family shared memories of Mo’s generosity, spirit and passion. It seems like there’s a bottomless well of stories like that. As the outdoor ceremony drew to a close, and a peaceful silence settled on the group, members of D9 and the 3252 standing in the back gave Mo one last sendoff, beating their drums and sending black and yellow smoke up to the heavens as they sang his song.
Mauri Mauri Querido
Jamás Te Olvidará