With just four days remaining before the world champion U.S. women’s national team’s first game in the Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament, there remained no announcement as of Friday afternoon on where fans in the U.S. would be able to watch broadcasts of the matches.
It seems wild that this would be the case in the year 2020, but it was still true with just days to go before the U.S. meets Haiti in Houston on Tuesday.
Sources at two U.S. TV networks told SI that Concacaf had tried to package the rights to the women’s Olympic qualifying tournament with rights to other Concacaf properties, including March’s men’s Olympic qualifying tournament. Those networks refused to bite.
Four years ago, the Concacaf women’s Olympic qualifying tournament was shown in the U.S. on the platforms of NBC, which owns the rights to the Olympics themselves. NBC has not acquired the qualifying rights this time around.
A source with knowledge of the situation told SI that Concacaf is producing the qualifying tournament games for some of its rights-holders in countries outside the U.S. and would make those games available to viewers in the U.S. if there was no agreement reached on U.S. rights for the games. Concacaf will make an announcement before the tournament starts.
Concacaf owns the rights to the qualifying tournament, not U.S. Soccer. Berths in this summer’s Olympic tournament will go to the winners of the two semifinal games on Feb. 7 at the L.A. Galaxy's Dignity Health Sports Park.
In addition to facing Haiti, the U.S. women will also face Panama (Jan. 31) and Costa Rica (Feb. 3), with all group games taking place at the Houston Dynamo's BBVA Stadium. Canada, Mexico, Jamaica and Saint Kitts and Nevis are in the region's other group, playing their matches at H-E-B Park in Edinburg, Texas. The top two teams in each group reach the all-important semifinal round.