A World Cup berth isn't the only thing lying in the balance for Mexico's upcoming playoff against New Zealand.
Darren Rovell of ESPN reports that sponsors have an estimated $600 million hinging on Mexico's chances. Should El Tri not qualify, a longshot but not impossible with how the team has been playing recently, companies like adidas, Univision and Coca-Cola will lose hundreds of millions of dollars.
Adidas has the most to lose, as its Mexico merchandise sales during the World Cup tend to be enormous. In 2010 the sports retailer sold 1.2 million Mexico jerseys, the highest haul for any participating country.
After adidas, television companies like TV Azteca and Univision, which paid hundreds of millions for broadcast rights, are in the worst position. Other sponsors, like Coca-Cola, Banamex and Movistar could also be in trouble. All told a conservative estimate of money lost should El Tricolor not qualify for the World Cup is $600 million.
"I would say that the atmosphere between all the stakeholders and sponsors, it’s about doubts, it’s about uncertainty and it’s about questions," Rogelio Roa, who heads a sports marketing firm in Mexico, told Rovell. "No one would have suspected that, at this point, Mexico wouldn't have a spot in the World Cup."
Mexico, normally a soccer powerhouse, needed a minor miracle simply to qualify for a playoff against New Zealand. El Tri are only in this position because the United States scored two stoppage time goals against Panama. Now, Mexico is set for a home-and-home against New Zealand, with the first game in Mexico City on Wednesday. The teams will square off again in New Zealand on Nov. 20.