Mexico plays the final match of its disastrous 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign Tuesday night in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has already qualified, so Mexico is the big favorite to win and advance to a World Cup playoff against New Zealand.
But there's an unlikely (though possible) nightmare scenario — where Costa Rica wins, Panama blows out the U.S., and Mexico fails to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 23 years.
This scenario would be devastating for the once-promising team and its rabid fans. It would also be a huge hit to the Mexican soccer industry.
The total cost of Mexico missing the World Cup would be $600 million in lost TV, merchandise, sponsorship and other revenue, according to DreaMatch sports marketing expert Rogelia Roa.
TV broadcasters would take a hit on ad revenue, and not just in Mexico.
Televisa and TV Azteca paid a reported $100 million to broadcast the tournament in Mexico. These two companies don't just air the country's most popular sport, they own professional teams (like Club America) and even the famed Azteca Stadium. So a financial shortfall for these massive companies could have very real ripple effects for the rest of Mexican soccer.
Interestingly, a Mexico World Cup disaster would hurt the U.S. too.
Univision paid $325 million to broadcast the '10 and '14 tournaments in Spanish in the United States. While ESPN has been breaking World Cup qualifying ratings records with its broadcasts of U.S. men's national team games, its audience still lags behind its Spanish-language counterparts.
For the last U.S.-Mexico qualifier in September, ESPN set a record with 2.2 million average viewers. But an average of 3.5 million watched the game in Spanish on Unimas.
On June 11, the Mexico-Costa Rica game averaged 2.8 million viewers on Unimas alone. The U.S.-Panama game (played on that same night) averaged 2.6 million viewers across both Unimas and ESPN.
The 2010 World Cup game between Mexico and Argentina was the most-watched Spanish-language broadcast in U.S. history with 9.2 million average viewers.