The Loss Heard ‘Round the World: The Cost of a World Cup with no USMNT
The United States will not be participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Read it again. And again. It is still true. The nightmare is real. It has been almost 2 months since the USMNT took the field in Trinidad, needing only a draw to lock in its trip to Russia. Even a loss and wins from Costa Rica (vs. Panama) and Mexico (vs. Honduras) would have secured at least a spot in the playoff against the Socceroos’ of Australia. The United States was a virtual lock for the World Cup. Then an Omar Gonzalez own goal. 1-0 T&T. Then an absolute screamer from Alvin Jones that could have (maybe?) been saved by keeper Tim Howard. It wasn’t. 2-0 Trinidad and Tobago in just the 37th minute. The good news at halftime for the US was that Mexico and Costa Rica were both leading their respective matches. Then, just after halftime, 19-year-old boy wonder, Christian Pulisic, pulled back a goal for the Yanks. It seemed like all was going to be okay, then the unthinkable happened. The other scores started turning against the US. Mexico and Costa Rica Both allowed multiple goals and lost their games. Then the US couldn’t find an equalizer. T&T- 2 USA- 0. Final. The United States would not be going to the World Cup for the first time since the 1980’s.
The loss is a huge setback for US Soccer, but perhaps the biggest loss was for those who had made huge investments that hinged on the US making the World Cup. Let’s start with US Soccer, According to Bobby McMahon of Forbes(@BobbySoccerRep) they miss out on all the gate and television rights money from the friendly’s in the run up to the World Cup. They also will miss out on the $12.5 million award from FIFA for qualifying. The next big loser is Fox. The broadcasting company purchased the rights to all FIFA properties from the 2015 Women’s World Cup through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The price for those rights? $425 MILLION. All with the assumption that the USMNT would be playing in all those World Cup tournaments. According to Sports Illustrated, the Americans missing out on the World Cup could end up costing Fox $10-$20 million. Fox did not seem too dismayed when they put out the following statement: “While the U.S. was eliminated, the biggest stars in the world from Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo stamped their tickets to Russia on the same day, and will battle teams ranging from Mexico to England that have massive fan bases in America.” Clearly, they plan on keeping an upbeat mentality throughout the tournament.
Back to US Soccer. That $12.5 million may end up being the costliest thing to them. As you can see from the chart below, the last World Cup year, 2014, the USMNT total expenses were a little more than $18 million for the whole year.
That $12.5 million could have gone really far in paying for the USMNT’s total expenses for 2018.
All that to say, this is way more than just a bad loss. This is a bad loss with a big pay cut. The USMNT played very poorly and it will have some very bad financial ramifications for all those involved with the team and the USSF. Not to mention the loss of traction that soccer was building in the US after three of the most successful years for soccer, in terms of popularity, in the country’s history. At the end of the day, all the USMNT can do is sit back and wait, in hopes that the 2022 WC qualifying cycle, which will get kicked off in 2019, brings better days for the team, and the nation.
This blog post was written by Samford University student Bo Burgess.