So, Your Team Didn’t Make The World Cup

With the US Men’s National Team heading to a summer off, what will their media partners cover?

As soon as the US failed to qualify for the World Cup, I knew it was going to be a weird experience as a Mexico fan. As someone who pays attention to Sports Media, I also knew companies would need to adjust their plans for the World Cup accordingly. Fox Sports has been planning for this summer for years and they had to throw out their plans less than a year before the cup. They released a statement the next day after America failed to qualify saying their plans were not going to change.

Last night’s World Cup qualifying results do not change Fox Sports’ passion for the world’s biggest sporting event. 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.

That was back in October 2017 but apparently things have changed. Instead of going all in, Fox Sports is cutting back its coverage to save money. They will only send 4 announcers to do games live. The rest of the games will be called off of monitors from a studio in Los Angeles. The only games called live at the stadium will be the opener, final 8 games and select games. When ESPN had the English-language rights, only 13 games were called off-site.

I expected Fox to make a bigger play for Mexico fans and they have in recent years by buying English-language rights to their World Cup Qualifiers and various friendlies. They even hired Mariano Trujillo (2 caps for El Tri) and Jorge Perez-Navarro (long time Univision play-by-play man) to call Mexico games to uneven results but they at least had knowledgeable voices who would be familiar to most  fans of El Tri. I figured they would be a part of the 4 commentators Fox is sending to Russia to call games. I would have been wrong. Unfortunately, they will be calling games off of a monitor a few thousand miles away from the stadiums. It’s hard for me and other Mexico fans to think Fox Sports is doing anything other than the bare minimum to try and win our attention. For many of us, we will always view them as the last resort to watch a Mexico game. And for non-Mexico fans, their lack of effort into this World Cup in general, does not bode well for the next 2 editions in which they have the English rights.

This brings me to the reason I wrote this piece. I noticed Men In Blazers were doing an event centered around Mexico’s send off game later this month. I have seen their show and listened to the pod before but never really heard them talk about El Tri unless they were playing the US. In those instances, it was clear to see which side they took.

Which is fine. Obviously they got popular throwing their support and content behind US Soccer and the English Premier League. They even put on a convention, with tickets starting at $225, with plenty of speakers coming from those worlds. No one from the Mexican National team or LigaMX. Which, again, is fine and the convention sold out so they obviously targeted their demographic well.  So I was a little surprised when I saw their latest event.

This tweet kinda of blew up my mentions with the majority of tweets agreeing with me. The official MIB account even tweeted me a podcast they did with JCO back in 2017. But since it’s Twitter and there is a character limit, some may have not understood where I was coming from. Someone even thought I wanted some sort of monopoly on who could cover my team. After reading the first part of this article, I think you can kind of see where I’m coming from but I’ll go into greater detail here.

I understand why Fox Sports, Men In Blazers and other media outlets want to jump on the Mexico bandwagon and provide content that appeals to that massive fan base. Fox Sports has a World Cup to promote (even if they are half-assing it) and Men In Blazers have a new book coming out this week. I get it. There’s a big fan base that likely speaks English and Spanish but doesn’t get much pub in English as Spanish outlets dominate the conversation. But that fan base has been there for a while now. Somewhat starving for attention, an untapped market. Which brings me to this point:

“You should be happy outlet X is covering your team” – Twitter

And yes, I am happy to see Mexico get more coverage but as you can see from the first part of this piece. It’s usually the bare minimum and only when outlets have no other choice. Because if the US was in the World Cup, Mexico would not be featured as heavily in those plans. Basically, I understand the extra attention but I also know it’s not genuine. This isn’t the beginning of a big plan to get involved with the Mexican soccer community. I fully expect them to stop talking about or covering Mexico after the World Cup. So enjoy this image of Lalas rocking a Mexico jersey (even though he’s hiding) because once the World Cup is over, the interest in pandering to Mexico fans will also be gone.