Stunned US face major questions after World Cup debacle

Ruben Hill
October 12, 2017

In the end, while the USMNT's failure to qualify for the World Cup is not almost as catastrophic as it would have been twelve or even eight years ago, it's still a pretty big deal.

In a statement, Fox Sports said it still expects to draw a big audience thanks to the star power of players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, whose teams will be playing in Russian Federation. Its qualifying tournament often is described as "forgiving", as it stacks the odds heavily in favor of stronger teams, including the US and Mexico.

With questions starting to be asked as to how far the country's non-attendance in Russian Federation will impact on World Cup commercial commitments, Fox Sports - an important FIFA partner through to 2022 - issued a statement saying: "Last night's World Cup qualifying results do not change FOX Sports' passion for the world's biggest sporting event".

Fans in the US are familiar with stars like Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar.

An estimated 26.5 million people in the USA watched Germany's victory over Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil, and the 2018 final figures to be a major draw as well.

The U.S reached the quarter-finals in 2002 and more recently impressed in Brazil four years ago by reaching the second round, finishing above Portugal in their group.

U.S. Soccer's corporate partners also paid to sponsor a team that will miss the month-long event. "This is the happiest day of my life", Warner said. But at least the team's humiliating failure won't cost them money. Without the boost of the the tournament, the 2018 Final may be unable to replicate those ratings. After Friday's 4-0 victory over Panama, the US looked certain to continue its record of reaching the World Cup finals-it hasn't missed a tournament since 1986. Previously, ESPN/ABC held the rights. Shares in Twenty-First Century Fox fell on the news. But concerns over Fox's outlook may be overblown, according to a report from Pivotal Research Group.

I am completely, utterly, totally embarrassed by this team. The United States team may find it more hard to schedule exhibition matches, and larger global clubs - where US players alreadyare few and far between - may be less willing to sign Americans. While watching the game and playing it are two different products, one can certainly lead to another.

Instead, we'll have to watch as a bunch of other countries get to enjoy that kind experience, though far fewer Americans are now expected to care about the World Cup. As I sit at my computer this Wednesday afternoon and write this article, I simply can't shake the lingering despair that I won't get to see Christian Pulisic and some of the best young talent from the country play in a World Cup until 2022.

The loss is devastating to the U.S. men's soccer program, which had not missed a World Cup since 1986.

Still, many in Russian Federation focused instead on the failure to qualify of neighboring Ukraine, which occasionally had threatened to boycott the tournament over Russia's backing for separatist groups in eastern Ukraine. While the US "absence is very disappointing to all involved, it's not a devastating blow to brand partners' plans". About a quarter of U.S. National Team expenses are spent on the country's youth national teams and player development - around $22 million in 2016. That figure is nearly certainly a little inflated, seeing as how the ratings in the US aren't going to drop down to zero.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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