If Mexico fails to get to World Cup, backers could lose $600 million

Mexico's Javier Hernandez reacts after failing to convert on a scoring chance in a win over Panama on Friday. If Mexico fails in its quest to qualify for the World Cup, the result could be costly.
(Christian Palma / Associated Press)

If Mexico fails to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1990, it would be a costly failure for the country’s national soccer federation, the players and numerous sponsors and businesses.

According to the U.S. business and technology website Business Insider, Mexico sitting out next summer’s tournament in Brazil could result in $600 million in lost TV, merchandise and sponsorship revenue -- not to mention lost prestige for Mexican soccer.

Mexico, fourth in the regional World Cup qualifying standings, needs only a draw Tuesday night in Costa Rica to hold on to that spot and advance to a two-leg playoff next month with New Zealand. The winner of the series would earn one of the final World Cup berths. But if Mexico loses and Panama beats a depleted U.S. squad Tuesday, then Mexico would be out and Panama would play New Zealand.


Mexican sports marketing expert Rogelia Roa says if that happens, TV broadcasters would take a hit on ad revenue, and not just in Mexico, where Televisa and TV Azteca paid a reported $100 million for rights to the tournament. Univision paid $325 million to broadcast the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in Spanish in the U.S. And while ESPN has been breaking World Cup qualifying ratings records with its broadcasts of U.S. men’s national team games, its audience still lags behind its Spanish-language counterparts.

But Business Insider says that would just be the start of the ripple effect.

Adidas says that Mexico was the company’s bestselling international jersey at the last World Cup, with 1 million shirts sold. The company just released a new jersey for 2014, one that won’t exactly be flying off the racks if it becomes the official uniform of Mexico’s failure as a soccer nation.

The World Cup is often a launching pad for the individual brands of players, such as Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who left Mexico to play for legendary English club Manchester United after the last World Cup. Failing to qualify for Brazil could mean the next potential Chicharito won’t have the platform to become an overnight international superstar.

In addition, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, Allstate, Visa and Anheuser-Busch all have sponsorship deals with the Mexican team based on the assumption that they’d be participating in soccer’s biggest, most visible event.

And then you have the travel companies in both Mexico and Brazil. According to FIFA, Mexico was one of the top 10 countries in terms of number of ticket requests for next summer’s World Cup. Bloomberg reported that 15,000 Mexicans went to South Africa in 2010 at a cost of $10,000 a person.

Since next year’s tournament is being held in the Americas, that number stands to rise. But if Mexico fails to qualify, it could hurt companies like Aeromexico, the country’s largest airline.


The soccer federations of all 32 countries that qualify also get a rumored $13 million each from FIFA, money that the Mexican federation would forfeit if El Tri is eliminated.


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