The Mexico national team will not be playing in the United States until fans are allowed back into stadiums, meaning El Tri is unlikely to play in the U.S. this year, according to Mexican federation (FMF) president Yon de Luisa.
Mexico usually plays five friendly games per year in the United States through its contract with Soccer United Marketing (SUM), attracting crowds that are regularly over 50,000.
However, the coronavirus pandemic means the immediate future of international football is up in the air.
“The SUM games are a good example [of how coronavirus impacts], it’s hard to think we’ll see [games in the U.S.] this year, if the United States doesn’t allow people access,” Yon de Luisa told ESPN. “We’re not going to see a game organized by SUM without people in the stadium.”
Friendlies in the United States against the Czech Republic and Greece in March and Colombia in June were all canceled, while CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani has confirmed that official events such as the suspended CONCACAF Nations League “Final Four” and World Cup qualifying will take priority when the new FIFA calendar is announced.
Mexico won’t be altering its contract with SUM to play friendlies in the United States and is already planning the next few years with its partner.
“There is no restructuring of the contract with SUM, it’s a well-drawn out contract and it anticipates different scenarios,” said De Luisa. “Aside from the contract, the relationship with our partner is extraordinary and, in the last eight or nine weeks, we have had meetings, planning for 2020 and even for 2021 and 2022 to try to fulfill all our commitments, from both sides.”
De Luisa added that an extension of the deal with SUM is also a possibility.
The FMF president said the federation’s income has been harmed by the COVID-19 crisis and admitted that staff, including head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino, may be forced to take a pay cut moving forward.
De Luisa also suggested that the suspension of pro/rel in Liga MX, confirmed last month, may not last as long as six years, as was originally announced.
“The time-frame that we were looking at was six years and that’s what was voted for in the respective assemblies,” said De Luisa. “That was the original plan, but that doesn’t mean to say that if the Liga de Expansion, or the former Ascenso MX, achieves economic solidity and [teams] have the possibility of staying alive in Liga MX [it can’t be earlier]… if that is achieved one or two years before, we at the FMF would be very happy.”
FIFA has told the FMF that pro/rel in Mexico should return at some point down the line and that multi-team ownership should also disappear, although De Luisa believes the game’s governing body and FIFA president Gianni Infantino are generally supportive of the changes in Mexico.
“FIFA supports the FMF decisions, but in the medium or longer term we have to return to normality with promotion and relegation, and multi-team ownership isn’t seen positively,” admitted De Luisa.