US World Cup disaster spells bad news for Fox
Does Donald Trump watch Fox Sports? Does he watch football? Soccer, not football, that is. He watches American football, or at least the anthems. He most certainly watches Fox News. Would he have spared a moment for the people at Fox Sports this week?
In 2011, they signed a deal with Fifa for the Englishlanguage rights to broadcast both the 2018 and 2022 Soccer World Cups in the US for more than $400m.
On Tuesday night, the US men’s football team lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. Fox Sports executives would have spat the dummy. ESPN executives would have been forgiven a small smile. Fox bid four times as much as ESPN did for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. And then the US made sure that there is no home team for them to cheer on.
The US national men’s team are known by the roll-off-thetongue moniker of USMNT, probably to make sure no one mistakes them for the women’s team, the one that wins World Cups and Olympic medals.
On Wednesday morning, Fox Sports would have taken a call from Verizon and Volkswagen, which had signed deals to sponsor the halftime and post-match shows on the channel.
Mind you, perhaps Fox won’t suffer all that much. Just to the tune of about $10m to $20m, which, as The New York Times suggested, “represents a negligible amount for Fox”.
The New York Times noted that Fox had already signed 75% of its marquee sponsors, although there may be viewership and ratings targets in those contracts. The USMNT matches would have attracted bigger audiences for Fox, given that “most games from Russia will be broadcast in the middle of the night or in the early morning in the US, which was known at the time of bidding and could be accounted for. Missing out on a minimum of three matches for the US was nearly unthinkable.”
A World Cup without Argentina would have been unthinkable. On Tuesday night, after they had conceded a goal inside the first minute, Lionel Messi turned to his teammates: “Here, hold my beer.”
Three goals later and all those horrid thoughts the Argentinian public had about Messi were banished. Messi even ended the boycott of speaking to the media that the team instituted in December because a journalist suggested Ezequiel Lavezzi had been dropped by Argentina for a match after he had been smoking dagga.
“It would have been a crazy World Cup without Argentina,” said Messi, who by this stage had presumably got a new beer.
“This group didn’t deserve it … we are calm now after achieving the main goal — that is the most important thing. All this time that we were away from the press, the fans helped us to be closer.”
One fan was happy the USMNT got knocked out. Jack Warner, currently of Trinidad, once of Concacaf, pocketer of South African cash and banned for life from football, was wetyour-pants happy. “I wanted to party,” he told a Trinidad radio station. “I have not been in better spirits. This is the happiest day of my life.”
Warner still faces 12 charges relating to racketeering and bribery by US judicial officials. He has been fighting extradition to front up to those charges.
“They have used their government to help to dismember Fifa in a way that is unimaginable. And last night on the field of play Trinidad and Tobago reduced them to their knees,” said Warner, who believes that a Fifa without himself and Sepp Blatter is unimaginable and the only dismembering that has happened is that some of the more blatant thieves have been told to sling their hook.
There is still a stench about Fifa that will not go away.
The Qatar World Cup in 2022 may not survive even the desperation of Fifa to have it happen.
Russian football officials would not co-operate with an investigation into the allegations of corruption that have dogged their bid to host the event and consequent victory to host the finals in 2018.
There will be no USMNT playing in 2018. Will Donald Trump be watching the World Cup? Well, it is in Russia.
JACK WARNER, CURRENTLY OF TRINIDAD, ONCE OF CONCACAF, POCKETER OF SOUTH AFRICAN CASH AND THANKFULLY BANNED FOR LIFE FROM FOOTBALL, WAS WETYOUR-PANTS HAPPY THE US HAD BEEN KNOCKED OUT