The Mexico men’s national team is unlikely to play games in Europe in 2021, with CONCACAF commitments and friendly games in the United States set to take over the schedule, according to Mexican federation (FMF) president Yon de Luisa.
Mexico hasn’t played a match as yet in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and only has a Sept. 30 friendly against Costa Rica and a Oct. 7 game in Amsterdam against the Netherlands scheduled so far for what remains of this year.
“[Playing in Europe in 2021] is very complicated, it’s going to be very difficult,” said De Luisa in an interview with ESPN. “The calendar in the coming year is going to be very tight for all the questions of CONCACAF and we’ll look to return to our fans in the United States when they let us have fans in the stands.”
De Luisa added that the federation will work with partners Soccer United Marketing (SUM) to arrange opponents for friendly games in the U.S. next year to try to make up for losses in 2020.
“We will be working with the people at SUM, with the sponsors and TV [rights holders] for the games we’ll have in 2021 and 2022, which will have a rich schedule and one from which we will be able to recover from the hit of 2020.”
There have been reports that the friendly against Costa Rica in Estadio Azteca could be in doubt, but manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino is due back in Mexico from his native Argentina on Tuesday and is scheduled to release the squad, which will be made up of exclusively Liga MX players, on Wednesday.
The trip to Europe for the game against the Netherlands — with another match, widely reported to be against New Zealand, still to be confirmed — has also been problematic for El Tri, with the different protocols in place in countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The procedures regarding players and the coaching staff entering Europe have not been easy, as hasn’t finding opponents,” said De Luisa. “There was the possibility of having opponents from Asia and fortunately we’ve found other federations with problems that are similar to ours.”
The schedule for World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF was altered with the October and November international windows postponed due to the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with the play-in round to the octagonal, which involves all of CONCACAF’s nations, now set to begin in March of 2021.
It is unclear what effect the postponement of the initial first rounds matches will have on the remainder of the schedule. Mexico was due to start the final stage of World Cup qualifying in the first half of the June 2021 international window, but reports suggest that could now be pushed back to September 2021.
As things stand, Mexico is scheduled to play the “Final Four” of the CONCACAF Nations League in March, with the Gold Cup also set for July.