For years now, American soccer fans have enjoyed the luxury of watching matches from around the world on numerous channels and video platforms. Almost everything is available.
But just when you thought something as vital as a World Cup qualifier would be available in most households, we’re getting word that the 2014 qualifier between the United States and Guatemala on June 12 might appear on closed-circuit TV only.
The Guatemalan federation sold the U.S. rights to MediaPro, a communications company that, during the previous World Cup cycle, purchased the rights to a U.S. qualifier at Honduras. In turn, Media Pro reached a deal with a group that showed the game exclusively on closed-circuit TV in restaurants, bars and other gathering spots. Fans had to pay a cover charge of at least $15.
It is unclear what MediaPro will do with the rights this time.
“We’re now in discussions with the company to see what can be done, but we’re unsure what the TV availability will be,” USSF spokesman Neil Buethe said.
A U.S. network or the USSF could buy the rights from MediaPro, but the expense involved, on top of production costs, might put it out of reach.
The arrangement could also sour the relationship between the USSF and the Guatemalan federation, possibly resulting in no standard TV in Guatemala for the second qualifier between the teams in October in the United States.
ESPN will carry the U.S. home qualifier June 8 against Antigua & Barbuda in Tampa.
Federations control TV rights for their home matches.
Meantime, some seats for the USA vs. Brazil friendly May 30 at FedEx Field are now available at half-price on LivingSocial — a sign that sales have not met expectations set by the Washington Redskins, who are hosting the match. About 45,000 tickets have been sold in a stadium that holds about 80,000.