In a move that somehow doesn’t violate any rules governing World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF, Guyana will play Mexico, a team already qualified for the fourth round Hexagonal, at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston on October 12th. No, not Houston, Guyana (there is no Houston, Guyana), Houston, Texas. Go ahead and get that paper, Guyana.
The Guyanese federation sold promotional rights to the game to a third party, who then negotiated with BBVA Compass Stadium to place the game there. The Mexican FA had previously announced on its website that the game would be played in Phoenix at the much larger University of Phoenix stadium.
Mexico playing on U.S. soil against teams other than the USMNT is nothing new, of course, with El Tri playing several large-venue friendlies in the United States each year. Mexico draws ‘em in, and the Mexico FA rakes up the cash. Mexico is, by most available measures, the most popular soccer team in the United States. While distasteful to USMNT fans, it makes sense that the Mexicans would take advantage of that reality.
But this dynamic is much different. This is a World Cup qualifier, not a friendly; as a competitive match, it seems strange that Guyana has the right to sell the rights and allow it to be moved out of the country in an obvious cash grab. Mexico fans will no doubt buy up all available tickets as soon as the game goes on sale, making the environment entirely pro-Mexico.
The game is a dead rubber. The result will have no bearing on Guyana or Mexico’s fortunes in World Cup qualifying. and there would be every expectation of a Mexico victory even if the game was in Guayana. But it’s still a qualifier, and should be treated as one. The fact that Guyana will (presumably) benefit from the money made from the game doesn’t excuse the lack of competitive integrity. The precedent being set here is frankly frightening.