The U.S. men's national soccer team received a devastating blow Tuesday night, losing their qualifying match against Trinidad and Tobago 2-1. The defeat eliminated the team from being able to participate in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The USMNT has played in every World Cup since 1986, making the U.S. broadcast rights to the tournament valuable. That's why as U.S. Soccer reels after the nightmare loss, Fox Sports might be even more stunned: A bidding war between Fox Sports and ESPN resulted in Fox outdueling the Worldwide Leader in Sports to the tune of $400 million for the English-language rights to broadcast both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
In other words, Fox paid about $200 million for the rights to broadcast the 2018 World Cup in the U.S. — a World Cup the U.S. will not be participating in.
With the team's loss Tuesday night, Fox Sports automatically lost the opportunity to broadcast at least three group-stage games, let alone any knockout-round games the men may have advanced to. In the meantime, Fox, like many USMNT fans, may still hold out hope that 2022 will be a dramatic return to the tournament for the Red, White, and Blue.