Blatter Blathers on MLS

MLS has responded to the latest pontificating by the FIFA boss. In case you missed it, here it is:

PRETORIA, South Africa – (AP) FIFA president Sepp Blatter renewed his call for Major League Soccer to adopt an August-May schedule, saying it will struggle to persuade more star players to follow David Beckham to the United States unless it matches its season to those in Europe.

Blatter said that the current March-October season was the overwhelming reason that MLS cannot compete with Europe’s top leagues.

“There is one big problem there and they know, the organizers know, that as long as you don’t have your own stadia in the MLS, you have to use stadia from another sport, which is American football,” Blatter said. “With the season played from March to October, you are not in the so-called good international season. The result is that you will not attract star players from Europe to play for only six or seven months, with the exceptional case of Beckham.”

Beckham joined the Los Angeles Galaxy from Real Madrid in July 2007 but was loaned to AC Milan from January through the end of the Italian season last month to better his chances of maintaining a spot on England’s national team.

Beckham is set to rejoin the Galaxy for its July 16 game at the New York Red Bulls.

Citing that 17 of the U.S. Confederations Cup players are based outside the U.S., Blatter said Beckham is likely to be MLS’s sole star import for the foreseeable future.

“Your best players play in Europe,” Blatter said. “You take your 23 players here and most of them play in Europe, so this is not the right solution for MLS.”

MLS commissioner Don Garber agrees with Blatter in theory. By next season, 12 of the 16 teams will control their own venues, all but Washington’s RFK Stadium, Houston’s Robertson Stadium, Kansas City’s Community America Ballpark and San Jose’s Buck Shaw Stadium.

“We regularly evaluate all aspects of our competition, including the timing and format of our season,” Garber said in a statement. “Because of the extreme winter weather in many of our markets in the U.S. and Canada, a switch to the international calendar would pose many challenges for MLS and its fans. I am convinced that the time will come when we do adapt to the international calendar. I just don’t believe that time is in the foreseeable future.”

Soccer’s governing body demanded that the United States create a national league as one of its conditions for awarding the country the right to host the 1994 World Cup. The MLS began in 1996 and Blatter said organizers had long been aware of the problems regarding the clash in calendars.

MLS routinely schedules matches on international fixture dates.

“They have to play and adapt themselves to the international calendar,” Blatter said. “If they do that, they can have success. I spoke several times and I spoke on this 10 years ago when I was still secretary general and nothing has changed in the USA.

Thoughts: I vote we give Blatter a ball in Toronto in February and see how long it takes for him to break a foot as he kicks the frozen thing around.

Hmmm, Brazil’s best players are in Europe. Really hurt their national team hasn’t it?

He’s right about the stupidity of MLS playing on international fixture dates though. (Only Don Garber could make Blatter sound relatively intelligent).

What do you think?

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  • Avid US fan

    I agree with you, although, why can’t we keep the current international dates despite our current schedule? I guess the biggest problem is that FIFA tournaments are during the summer and require extended time off. But we should be able to schedule games around the other dates during the year.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    FIFA President Sepp “Leaky” Blatter makes Tim Leiweke look like Einstein. Switching to an “international” schedule would destroy MLS (and I’m not talking about playing through fixture dates). Does anybody seriously believe that American sports fans would sacrifice football and basketball for soccer? Does anybody seriously believe that MLS would thrive in the midst of the overwhelming publicity generated by those other two sports? Has anybody watched ESPN for the past 15 years?

    Blatter forgets (or refuses to realize) that soccer not only is *NOT* the primary spectator sport here but that is probably ranks (at best) fifth behind football, basketball, baseball and NASCAR. Having MLS play a fall-spring schedule would bury the league.

  • Ben

    Blatter is a *any imaginable existing and non existing insult*. But I want to focus not on him but >

    Garber and many fans know that MLS can’t survive a European schedule/season yet (climate and attendance are big reasons).

    Would it be cool to be in harmony with the rest of the world = yes, however there are many leagues with special and diffrent schedules, it’s not only MLS.

    Maybe it would be possible to extend the MLS season for a further 1-2 weeks or play more midweek games (if attendance doesn’t drop), thus to freeing international dates in the summer and reduce the Gold Cup to be held every 4 years.

    Many European leagues are actually in favour of doing a summer league including Switzerland.
    But since all of them are small soccer nations and leagues they are afraid of possible “outcast” status and don’t want to be the 1st to start.

    Here in Switzerland, currently the Season goes as:
    Mid July > 1st week of December (first phase)
    Last week of February > Mid May (second phase)

    They could add 1-2 rounds in December and then start later, since in February and March it’s often a joke to play with horrible conditions (snow, frozen pitches, mudd instead of grass). We have not many modern stadiums either with undersoil heating or artificial surfaces.