In an op-ed column that ran in the nine-newspaper Los Angeles News Group today, UCLA labor professor Victor Narro slammed Galaxy sponsors Herbalife for taking advantage of economically disadvantaged Latinos as part of its routine business practices and called for a state investigation into the issue.
Left unsaid in the column is that the primary sponsor of the Anschutz Entertainment Group-owned LA Galaxy and the Harbor Gateway-based American Youth Soccer Organization is Herbalife.
These are natural sponsorships given the U.S. Latino population’s love for soccer, but clearly raises questions about the economic relationship between the company, the sport and a vulnerable demographic group.
Herbalife is no stranger to controversy and government investigations, but it appears AYSO, MLS and the Galaxy are much more interested in looking the other way given the millions the company contributes to soccer in this country (and around the world for that matter as the Herbalife ads illustrating this blog post demonstrate).
While we’re on the subject of questionable business practices, it should be noted that Galaxy rivals Chivas USA shouldn’t be gloating over this negative publicity either. That club’s owner, Jorge Vergara, has enriched himself with a Mexican version of Herbalife dubbed Omnilife that uses a pretty much identical marketing scheme.
And lest I forget, this kind of stuff seems endemic to soccer with Real Salt Lake recently exchanging one sponsor for another multilevel marketing company.
Incidentally, I invite a response from the Galaxy, MLS, Chivas USA, Real Salt Lake or AYSO either in the comment section on this blog or in a separate post.