American football has sunk to a new low with officials investigating the prospect of hosting a “fake” tournament to rival the most watched sporting event on the planet.
It is just over one month since the USA’s men’s team were bundled out of contention for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia when they were stunned by a series of results that conspired to dump them from a qualification spot in the CONCACAF zone.
The US were beaten 2-1 by Trinidad and Tobago on the final match day in the Northern and Central American qualification region, allowing Honduras and Panama to leap into qualification spots.
Honduras’ fourth-place finish was enough to earn a final play-off against Australia, while Panama secured direct qualification and the United States crashed and burned.
The disaster comes after Fox Sports in the United States paid an astonishing $500 million for the rights on the 2018 and 2022 events.
Before America’s Russia 2018 hopes were dashed, Fox Sports President Eric Shanks joked America failing to qualify for FIFA’s showpiece “would (be) like $200 million flushed down the toilet”.
It has got real ugly, real quick.
The scale of the disaster at least partly explains the desperate decision from US Soccer to investigate the sad prospect of staging a tournament to rival the World Cup — made up of the teams that failed to secure a spot in the final list of 32 teams heading to Russia next year.
If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
It could always be worse of course. Can you even imagine the Italian Football Federation (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio) officials being invited to compete in a tournament made up of World Cup qualification losers?
That’s what’s on the cards for Italy, the Netherlands, Chile, Ireland and the many other high-profile countries that failed to earn a spot at the Russia 2018 table.
Australia could also be invited if the Socceroos fail to progress past Honduras in Wednesday night’s crunch playoff second-leg at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
The US Soccer Federation (USSF) is looking into the possibility of hosting the tournament on the eve of the World Cup made up of unlucky qualification losers.
USSF has confirmed reports it’s marketing arm (Soccer United Marketing) is putting together a plan which includes bribes to “persuade” FIFA and the individual national football governing bodies interested in participating, into agreeing to the concept.
There remains a long list of potential deal-breakers to the concept, with European leagues unlikely to be willing to let their stars miss matches to play in a made-up tournament on the eve of the World Cup, beginning in June next year.
FIFA is reportedly also likely to shoot down any proposal which may distract from its showpiece in Russia.
The idea that American football has sunk so low to be desperate enough to consider staging such a tournament has left football commentators in the USA red faced for their country’s standing on football’s global stage.