SUM - Good for the Wallet, Bad for Business

I was very lucky to have found this community of knowledgeable footie fans a few years ago before Germany 2006.

As a fan of Mexico, I was growing very tired of the "speculation as fact" sensationalism that festers in the major Mexican media outlets. So when I stumbled upon Big Soccer, it was an ointment that dried up the boil of half-truths and what ifs that one had to slog through to get to the facts. I instantly became a member, then a paying member, and have since posted 1,000 times.

For the folks that have gotten to know me and opinions, for better of for worse, I think they can all agree that I am a very passionate fan of Mexican footie, but I absolutely despise the administration of the sport in Mexico. Mexico's biggest obstacle to becoming a truly world class team is itself. What are the most noticeable warts? Well, there is the ridiculous splitting of the local tournament into 2, which leads to a 10 team play-off, the constant recycling of very mediocre coaches, 5 foreigners per team in the first division, the "draft" that never allows players to test their value in the open market, uniforms that look like a NASCAR quarter panel.... The marketing relationship with SUM.

I understand that FEMEXFUT are not communists, but I do think that short term gains are consistently sacrificed for long term goals. Case in point: the rumored friendlies that Mexico has lined up this June with Argentina and Peru. Mexico is contractually obligated to play 6 national team games a year in the US under a contract the FEMEXFUT signed with SUM. It gives expats the chance to cheer their team. It generates a lot cash. Everybody is happy.

Obviously, Argentina is quality opponent. It is always good to see how one stacks up against a perennial power. But Mexico knows how Argentina plays, and they are familiar with Peru as well. What Mexico is not familiar with, however, is playing a match in a hostile environment against a quality side.

Mexico signed a contract to play a friendly in Europe on March 26, and most of us were ecstatic to finally see how the Tri would measure up against a Euro side on their turf. At first, Spain was mentioned, then Portugal. It never materialized, however, and the FEMEXFUT scrambled to finally line-up Ghana at Fulham's Craven Cottage. Ghana is another quality team, but even Hugo Sanchez said if it was Ghana, then let's play them in Ghana instead of London. When this game was announced, FEMEXFUT said they were mulling offers to go back to Europe in June to play Euro2008 warm ups against participants.

But SUM has forced Mexico's hand. Instead of popping over to take on a Czech Republic, or Sweden, Mexico will play in the cozy confines of the US in front of their ravenous fans. Mexico will lose the opportunity to play against teams whose style they will surely face in the upcoming world cup. Why is this important? Because Mexico will not be seeded in the tournament like they were in Germany.
They will likely be drawn into a pot of Asia/Concacaf teams, and the subsequent group they will be drawn into will likely be a group of death. Imagine a group of Germany, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Netherlands. The US understands this, which is why they have lined up an impressive list of friendlies, not to prepare them for the CONCACAF qualifiers, but for the world cup.

As always, though, FEMEXFUT would rather cash that check than plan for the future. I understand the bottom line is important, but I also believe that you have to spend money to make money. One day FEMEXFUT will realize that if you can make your team better, you make more marketable, not the other way 'round.