With USA-Honduras only a few short weeks away, US National Team fans have a few questions they need answered, and none of them has anything to do with the standing, the players, or the managers.
Simply put, what we want to know:
Will the game be available on TV?
Will it be played in Honduras considering that country's current political climate?
Thee first, unfortunately, I can't shed any light on personally. Although, as some of you are aware, I "took the lead" on the USA-Mexico television issue, I haven't had enough time to devote my energies to getting to the bottom of why the Honduras match appears headed for closed-circuit and pay-per-view TV. Once again, the issue is the rights, and how the federation in control those rights chose to sell them.
Steve Goff broke the news, and several bloggers have been pushing the issue back to the forefront. For a complete rundown of the current situation, as well as some insight into the way ESPN responds to requests for information (which I had some experience with during the Mexico debacle), I leave you in the capable hands of The Shin Guardian.
I don't see a way out of this one, but I applaud TSG for trying to get to the bottom of it. Things will only change (meaning our national broadcasters will see it worthwhile to do things like buy the rights to the Honduras game) due to constant pressure from those of us that desperately care about our boys.
The second question, I've obviously put a little more effort into. I wrote a piece on the issue, spurred on by comments made on Twitter by prominent soccer writers and friends of MFUSA familiar with the lay of the land in Honduras. I'm not sure I was the first to suggest the possibility, but I wasn't aware of any other mention until today, when the New York Times filed a story on the possibility of moving the game. We get our first comments from US Soccer, through their Senior Communications Manager Neil Buethe, on the matter, and they indicate that the issue is clearly on the minds of American soccer's leadership. If a dialog is taking place between the involved governing bodies (US Soccer, CONCACAF, and FIFA), then the thought that the game might be moved is certainly a real one.
The New York Times story notes that there is a stronger precedent, one that I missed, than the more recent Georgia-Ireland example I referenced; in 1996, a US-Guatemala match was moved from Guatemala City to El Salvador due to a stadium stampede a few months prior to the game. It's not quite a direct parallel to the current Honduran situation, so I'm not sure if it's more indicative of a potential move, but if did involve a US qualifier.
I can't imagine that moving the game, if it did come to pass, would have any affect on the convoluted TV situation (as much as we wish otherwise). I'm actually hopeful that the game is not moved, as that would be a sign that things are calming in Honduras; instability in that country, benefit to the USMNT or not, would not be a good thing for the region or the people of Honduras.
Updates forthcoming as events warrant.