Updated 07:08 PM EDT, Sat, Oct 24, 2020

Sports Business SOS: Boom or Bust - Mexico's 600 Million Reasons Why It Must Beat New Zealand

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The importance of Mexico's qualification into the 2014 Brazil World Cup matters more than just in terms of a country's strong identity to the sport - it matters in dollars and cents.

Much to the chagrin of United States national team soccer team fans, Mexican soccer dominates the sports business landscape in North America, with $600 million on the line as the Mexican national team finds themselves in the unfathomable position of having to take on Oceania champion New Zealand in a home-and-home playoff for the right to participate in the 2014 World Cup.

"Mexico is our prize possession," said Ernesto Bruce, head of soccer for adidas North America, with El Tri's jerseys selling in the U.S. as strongly Nike's U.S.team jerseys during the last World Cup cycle.

Adidas is not the only major sponsor with money invested in the success of the Mexican national team with Coca-Cola, Banamex, and Movistar all watching Wednesday's first leg game with great interest, having put up $300 million in a four-year sponsor package sold by Mexico's national soccer federation.

In fact, Mexican Football Federation Justino Compean states that revenue during the World Cup cycle, between marketing, sponsorships and television rights, can total to upwards of $250 million.

And then there are the broadcasters in both Mexico and the United States who stand to lose money - in some cases returning money to advertisers - if the Mexican national team fails to make the World Cup. Both Televisa and TV Azteca of Mexico each paid an estimated $100 million for the rights in their home country.

Univision, who paid $325 million for the Spanish-language rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cup, counts on the loyalty of the Mexican fanbase who make up 65 percent of the estimated 53 million Hispanics living in the U.S., to tune in and support their team.

Mexico's failure to beat New Zealand could also have a ripple effect on Major League Soccer - particularly the league's marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing (SUM), who own the rights to stage five friendlies on American soil annually.

A World Cup berth could make the difference between a series of games preparing the team for the Brazil tournament, as far as the U.S. tour and SUM's bottom line - or a barnstorming tour featuring Mexico's next rising stars hoping to make the 2018 Russia World Cup.

Then there is El Tri's rabid, hardcore fans that would travel to Mars if the team was playing a road game in that location, with Mexico's foreign ministry estimating that 30,000-plus soccer fans traveled to each of the 1998 France, 2002 South Korea / Japan, and 2006 Germany World Cups, while Bloomberg reports that 15,000 Mexicans went to 2010 South Africa World Cup at a cost of $10,000 a person.

"I would say that the atmosphere between all the stakeholders and sponsors, it's about doubts, it's about uncertainty and it's about questions," said Rogelio Roa, director DreaMatch Solutions, a sports marketing firm based out of Mexico City to ESPN. "No one would have suspected that, at this point, Mexico wouldn't have a spot in the World Cup."

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