Jason Davis of Match Fit USA is leading a collective effort of those of us in the blogosphere who cover and support the USMNT to take action to help ensure maximum exposure for the US-Mexico qualifying match at Azteca on August 12th.
As our readers are by now well aware, NBC/Universal through an agreement with the FMF has secured the Spanish and English language rights for this match. The usual USA broadcast team of ESPN (English) and Univision/Telefutura/Galavision (Spanish) will not be broadcasting this match. As if now the game broadcast is set for MUN2 (English) and Telemundo (Spanish). We are seeking to have NBC/Universal air the English broadcast on a platform in more homes than MUN2.
Here is the online petition. Please sign it.
Some other thoughts:
USA Network has some experience showing Soccer albeit much of it in the distant rear view mirror. The network showed NASL and MISL games consistently throughout the 1980s. NBC showed the 1986 World Cup but aside from Olympic Football, has not shown the sport since. Still with plenty of experience airing sporting events at 4pm ET on weekdays, USA would be a logical fit for this match.
Telemundo’s pro Mexican commentary team is problem for US oriented viewers. Unlike Telefutura/Univision/Galavision that has well prepared commentators and knowledgeable football producers, Telemundo simply produces a pro-Mexican telecast. Andreas Cantor during the Honduras-Mexico game in March did not even know all the Honduran player names and in their petulant whining about a call that went against Mexico they missed a Honduran goal.
Their is also the classic screaming of PENAL PENAL by Cantor anytime a Mexican player dives in the box but the dismissive NO FALTA when a Honduran or Salvadoran player is taken down in the box. The broadcast is geared to a Mexican-American audience with little consideration for the immigrants that live in the US from Central America or the Caribbean who may be watching the game. Thus it is clearly a non-starter for American oriented viewers.
MUN2 is not available in most homes, but I am suspecting that NBC/Universal is testing whether there is a bigger market for Latin football in English (especially FMF) by placing this critical qualifying match on this channel. A soft landing would be for NBC/Universal sports to show the match on their digital channel (for example, here in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market it is channel 6.3) .
NBC/Universal now has the ball in their court. Perhaps the US success in the Confederations Cup has them sold on this sports long term prospects or maybe they are simply protecting their Telemundo broadcast by denying ESPN the English language right as well. Either way, football fans need to be vocal in the next few weeks to ensure this match is seen by as many people as possible.
We’ve had prior experience with this: a 2007 friendly at Azteca was cancelled because of a similar dispute. The 1997 qualifier from Azteca was only shown on Spanish Language televsion even though every other US qualifier that year was shown on either ESPN, ESPN 2 or ABC. But with the national team now enjoying remarkable recognition in the mainstream sporting press thanks to the remarkable Confederations Cup run, we must ensure maximum exposure for what is the biggest US game in any World Cup qualifying cycle.