Universal Sports, CONCACAF Form TV Partnership for 2012 Olympic Qualifiers

Universal Sports Network and CONCACAF announced a partnership that gives Universal Sports Network rights to both the women’s and men’s 2012 CONCACAF Olympic qualifying soccer tournaments.

“This exciting new partnership with CONCACAF demonstrates the high caliber of global sporting events available on Universal Sports, and strengthens our already robust portfolio of Olympic-related programming,” said David Sternberg, Universal Sports CEO. “The CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournaments are a natural fit with our programming strategy as we build towards the 2012 Games in London.”

Universal Sports Network’s rights include exclusive English-language telecasts of all United States team matches and the finals from each of the two tournaments. Telemundo will provide Spanish-language television coverage of the tournaments in the U.S.

“We are extremely pleased that our Olympic qualifying tournaments will be seen on Universal Sports Network,” said Chuck Blazer, CONCACAF General Secretary. “With its focus on Olympic-related sports programming, we have no doubt that the network will serve as a great platform for fans to watch our teams attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.”

The 2012 CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournaments will determine the confederation’s two women’s and two men’s representatives at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The women’s tournament will take place from January 19 to 29, 2012 in Vancouver, Canada. The men’s tournament will take place from March 22 to April 2. The opening rounds will be played in Carson, Calif., andNashville, Tenn., with the semifinals and final taking place at the new LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

The U.S. women’s team, currently ranked first in the FIFA World Rankings and led by Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Christie Rampone and Alex Morgan, will make its first major tournament appearance since the FIFA World Cup last summer, where the Americans placed second after losing on penalty kicks to Japan. The United States will play Mexico, who upset the Americans in the semifinals of last year’s CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying, as well as Guatemala and the Dominican Republic in the group phase of the tournament. Reigning CONCACAF champion and host country Canada will face Costa Rica, Cuba and Haiti in group play.

The men’s tournament will feature as its host the U.S. team, whose roster will be announced in early 2012. Five other teams have also qualified for the competition thus far, including Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama.  The final two participants will be decided in the final round of Caribbean qualifying November 24-28 in Basseterre, featuring Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Cuba and host St. Kitts & Nevis.