Millions Will Be Lost If Mexico Doesn't Go To World Cup

Mexico has one last chance to qualify for the World Cup next year in Brazil. On Wednesday, it begins the first of a two-leg playoff against New Zealand. One marketing consultant says if the Mexican team doesn't go to Brazil, it could result in losses of more than $650 million.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Tomorrow in Mexico, the unthinkable may occur. The nation's beloved soccer team may fail to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil. OK, this may not be the grimmest news to come out of Mexico in recent years, but it will be a blow.

And it's a business story because as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico City, the team's failure could cost broadcasters, sponsors and sports teams hundreds of millions of dollars.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Tomorrow, Mexico takes on New Zealand here in the capital. It's the first of a two-game intercontinental playoff to secure a spot in Brazil. And the country is holding its collective breath. Mexico has failed to qualify for World Cup play only four times before, the last time in 1990.

Rogelio Roa, Director of DreaMatch Solutions, a Mexican sports marketing firm, says this is the worst national soccer team he's seen in three decades. He says Mexico's TV broadcasters, who've spent $100 million on rights, stand to be the biggest losers. Then there are sponsors like Adidas and Corona beer who would lose significant brand prestige. Roa says losses could easily top more than 600 million U.S. dollars.

ROGELIO ROA: Everyone that we are related with the sports and football industry will be affected with this hypothetical situation.

KAHN: Emphasis on the hypothetical. Roa, like most Mexican, still holds out hope.

(LAUGHTER)

ROA: I'm still confident that Mexico, it's going to be in Brazil in 2014.

KAHN: First though, they'll have to score the most goals in tomorrow's game and next week's in New Zealand.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News. Mexico City.

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