Blatter delivers misguided comments on MLS

 

By IVES GALARCEP

Sepp Blatter has never lacked for controversial comments, and he has also been known to offer up his fair share of tone deaf statements about the game he helps govern. So perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when he delivered a set of misguided comments about Major League Soccer yet again.

Speaking to Al Jazeera in a recent interview, Blatter criticized MLS for a variety of perceived faults, including what Blatter considers a failure to make inroads in “American society.”

“The problem in the United States is a little bit different,” Blatter said when asked about the progress the sport is making in China and the United States. “Soccer, as they call football there, is the most popular game in the youth. It’s not American football or baseball, it is soccer. But there is no very strong professional league, they have just the MLS. They have not professional leagues that are recognized by the American society.

“It is a question of time, I thought, when we had the World Cup in ’94, 1994, but now we are 2012, it is now 18 years, so it should have been done now, but they are still struggling.”

Blatter’s comments about MLS are surprising considering the clear growth the league has experienced in recent years. Expansion has grown the league to 19 teams, with vibrant fan bases emerging in markets like Seattle and Portland. Meanwhile, the construction of soccer-specific stadiums across the country has helped several MLS teams move toward financial stability.

Blatter’s most recent comments are hardly the first ones he has made that have been critical of MLS. A year ago, Blatter criticized MLS for not changing to the summer-to-spring calendar.

So what do Blatter’s latest critical comments mean to MLS?

Nothing much really. Some might say that his comments hurt the league, but that would be assuming Blatter still had any credibility left. In short, he doesn’t. He has turned putting his foot in his mouth an art form and the idea that he is out of touch when it comes to MLS shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone.

Perhaps the must absurd notion raised by Blatter is the idea that 17 years is enough time for a fledgling soccer league to become a top sport in a country that already had four major sports entrenched after decades upon decades of established presence.

Something else that stood out about Blatter’s comments was him being so optimistic about China’s soccer prospects despite concerns about corruptions and instability.

“In China definitely, we have no problems for the future of football,” Blatter said. “It’s only a question of organization.”

Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka might disagree with that statement.

MLS is far from perfect, and still has things to work on, like significantly improving TV ratings and stadium deals in the DC and New England markets, and figuring out a way to make regular season results more meaningful, and continuing to make rosters stronger so MLS teams can find success in the CONCACAF Champions League. All that said, MLS is growing, improving, getting stronger and making far more progress than Blatter realizes.

His ignorance doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. He is a dinosaur, a keeper of a tainted legacy who is playing out the string as soccer’s so-called leader. Rather than respected official, his semi-coherent rants make him sound more like the old uncle you tolerate but don’t take seriously.

———

You can see Blatter’s video interview here (his MLS comments come at the 20:40 mark):

What do you make of Blatter’s comments? Think he’s out of touch? Agree with his comments? See MLS being much stronger than Blatter gives the league credit for being?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, FIFA, Major League Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

165 Responses to Blatter delivers misguided comments on MLS

  1. John says:

    He is right and is doing his job.
    He is providing the outside pressure to make MLS move forward.
    He can’t say everything is great.
    MLS is not a part of the sports conversation in this country.
    MLS could be doing things faster.

    • andy says:

      I’ll take “doing things smarter” over “doing things faster” every time.

      • bigprof says:

        The New York Cosmos of the 1970s did things smart, however, every other team in that American league at the time did not. Blatter knows there have been been successful club soccer in the US. Its not 18 years, its more like 50. Time for Garber & Co to seize the opportunity to add another mil to team payrolls in order to up the play on the field.

    • marden08 says:

      He might be right. But he is still a corrupt unethical big feeling fat ***.

      • Mig says:

        Word. Being right doesn’t mean being useful. Not that he is entirely right by any means. And he is useless.

    • Sean says:

      The expectations of speed in 96 were unrealistic. For Blatter to be flogging that dead horse shows how out of touch he is. He has no idea of how much growth and progress has occurred since 96. What an ignoramus. For those of us who have watched from the times you’d hope to find one or two articles a week about soccer to now being surprised if there’s no interesting news in one day in the off season, we know.

      For anyone with open eyes, soccer is transforming the sports landscape in America. Period. MLS is part of that and growing.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Some of this is arguably back-patting by negative implication. The suggestion is FIFA’s back-pat should be sufficient to kick start any league to national dominance. It’s kind of like selling all the Olympic building as an economic boon for the host city, which in reality takes on a ton of debt.

        That being said, I think he’s just wrong. Among some of the come-lately leagues like Russia, Korea, and Australia, I’d take us in terms of financial sustainability, fan reasonableness, and steady growth. Russia has some nasty fans and is dependent on the price of oil to fund the teams; Australia is still back in our early stage of up and down finances, finding stadia, and sorting out which teams will stay or go. And China? Ha. They can’t even pay their darned marquee players No regional presence. etc etc.

        • beachbum says:

          well said Imperative.

          I’ll go further. Blatter has personal issues stemming from his own character (or lack thereof) which clouds everything he says about the beautiful game here in the US.

          He is anyhting but objective.

        • Josh D says:

          I think Japan is our closest rival in terms of league development. They started earlier but only really developed in the late 90s like MLS.

          I think they do a far better job with their academies and developing youth, plus keeping marquee players happy like Endo who have stuck around instead of going to Europe.

          They also do a better job finding second-rate talent in Brazil.

          Korea is right there with them, on par with development and on par with overall talent.

          Australia is still behind, but they face the same problems as us, if not worse. Their country is far sparser than ours and I think they play around the same time as Rugby which dominates their landscape followed closely by cricket. They also lack the immigrant population we have that should be able to sustain a bigger league than what we currently offer.

          I think our bigger goal should not be continual expansion, but finding a way to connect with TV audiences. We’ll never be anything other than a bit league without TV money, and so far that has failed. I think USWNT games are watched by more people.

          Now you can argue how to do that: invest in more money assuming it’ll raise the level of play resulting in a better watching experience. Greater advertising. More DP signings. Etc. But without the TV money, we won’t grow. We’ll only expand and there’s a big difference.

          We also need to do a better job attracting immigrants to our league. We’re sitting on literally tens of millions of would-be watchers. Maybe that’s why Blatter is disappointed. Sure we’re better than when we were, but when you look at the soccer audience and then at the MLS audience, we are still a single-percent number. That is disappointing.

          • T-lover says:

            You made some good points Josh,however shouldn’t we be looking at regional ratings instead of National ratings. I think MLS faces,similar problems like the NHL, of being a regional sport. NHL national ratings only cam later, they relied more on Regional ratings to grow.

          • The Imperative Voice says:

            The vast majority of MLS games are flyaway affairs that increase team expenses and make it harder for road fans to travel. Whereas even Swansea/Soton to Manchester is roughly the distance of the US “local rivalry” game between Houston and Dallas. I lived in the UK for a little while and people would be amazed, within a mile of where I lived you’d have Chelsea, Fulham, QPR. Open that radius up to more of Greater London and it’s like Arsenal Tottenham West Ham etc. and that’s just the first division teams. That’s what we’re competing with is countries where you can practically trip over the next team walking from the stadium of the last. That’s not just a historical and fan advantage, it’s easier overhead. Can you imagine what the coastal teams here spend on travel? And it’s not like we’re taking steps to make it easier, superfast trains, etc. But I’m wandering political. So I feel the Aussie comment because we’re dealing with so much more space to travel.

          • bigprof says:

            You forget one thing Josh, 3 million people in the US watched Toluca v Tijuana Liga MX final, and 6mil in the US watch Chivas v Club America. Also, 10 mil probably watched Uefa champions league. In others words, there’s an international context that MLS needs to become part of. Now, that could mean several things. One this is for sure, Superliga tanked, but that in no way is a reflection of the drawing power of Liga MX & MLS. MLS needs to get into Copa Lib (an international tournament with great repute), with US spanish networks like Telemundo covering the hell out of Mexican & American teams in that competition. Then, those games can be simulcast on NBC sports. If it were this year, they could remind viewers that Corinthians beat Chelsea

            • Philbin says:

              Copa Lib is interesting, but we’re already talking about difficulties in travel within our own country… Imagine flying to Buenos Aires! I think some MLS teams need to win the CCL first and make it to the CWC.

              • bigprof says:

                absolutely no one watches CCL. That competition does nothing for MLS. With Copa Lib, tons watch and if packaged correctly eurosnobs, mexican-americans and suburban americans will all watch in harmony and cheer. BTW, the first step is to demonize watching footie in the morning (thats weird!). It should be in the late afternoon or evening with much drinking involved. That alone means high viewing is possible IF THE LEVEL OF PLAY IS HIGH.

        • Dimidri says:

          The thing Russia will always have over us is that they are in Europe. As the only ‘exotic’ country that is in Europe (US/Canada, Russia, China, Australia, Middle East, etc.) a player who wants a payday could conceivably go there and not be a merc because he is playing in the CL, and they will always have an upper hand because of that.

          They also are like 7th in the UEFA coefficient and have teams in the round of 16 in most CL’s, but agreed, bad fans.

          • The Imperative Voice says:

            Except the Russian Super League is basically fueled by ownership capital:

            link to worldfootball.net

            The average attendance is 13K, which is the attendance point these days where the negative sorts in MLS think your team should be moved (Chivas).

            I mean, to underline the degree to which it is basically fueled by oil cash, Anzhi trains in Moscow and then plays their games 1,000 miles away back in Dagestan, for security reasons.

            The attendance itself is basically at the level of SPL, below that of the J-League, MLS, China, Argentina. I’d assume if the money drained back out and they had to live off attendance, it’d drop quickly and the “European” stamp of approval would mean less.

            Even if Sepp had dreams of football-size crowds here, the company we keep in terms of attendance and quality is not that shabby, and moderating the growth and spending urge that could have short cutted the process that Sepp wants, is helping us avoid the fate of NASL.

    • Victor the Crab says:

      Do you carry Blatter’s water around wherever he goes?

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      MLS attendance in my city is higher than MLB or NBA. That might not be true of every city and might reflect the lousiness of the Astros and the mediocrity (and limited capacity) of the Rockets, but in my town it was true last year.

      On a national level, MLS has surpassed NHL long ago based on simply showing up every year.

      So, if the media has not caught up, that’s its problem. It’s inertia from years of the Big 3, and it also arguably reflects some of the “news as commercial for broadcast” bias of the sports outlets. IMO Sportscenter is like a very slick infomercial for ESPN’s properties, part news but part “watch this.” Since MLS and EPL are a slight, once a week thing there, they get modest promotion in terms of highlights.

      I think this will change over time when the demographics/ fandom becomes impossible to ignore. But in terms of Blatter chastizing us, if he’s looking at media presence, it’s a lagging indicator.

      FWIW, I think some of the hocus pocus that could be pulled to try and pump up attendance is ultimately not that productive. Beckham came Beckham went, I don’t see the point in us spending a ton of money on players to force the issue. When you look at NHL imploding, half our virtue right now is labor peace and sustained, profitable existence.

      Last, having played games on a sheet of ice over Thanksgiving, in the southern US, I think Blatter is naive about the climatological aspects of shifting the schedule. NFL may be less of an issue than before, but North America is more like continental Europe (some of which goes on winter break) than England in terms of winter weather. And even if you played the games in20- 30F, is that better for attendance than 80F? I suspect sweltering fans will show up and drink water; I suspect freezing fans will stay home in droves. MLS’ sweet spot is pleasant weather and US winters can sometimes not be pleasant.

      • Seriously? says:

        Don’t forget, as many seem to, not all European leagues play fall to spring either.

      • Ceez says:

        I completely, 100% disagree. The true fan, the “die-hard”, will absolutely head out to the games regardless of the weather. I’m talking about those that have embraced their local teams as THEIR teams. Not so much those who have “their” teams playing on a different continent. The true fan will brave inclement weather. How am I positively sure about this?

        I’ve been a NY/NJ season ticket holder since 1996. My dad would take me to games and I loved every minute of it. I have seen my team and my league evolve into something I never thought I would see. I would follow my NYRB into anything and I did in that October snowstorm that forced the playoff postponement against DC United. Let me tell you, it was FREEZING!!! Also, a couple of years ago, a match was postponed due to a tropical weather system that passed through the area. Even though I had a feeling it would be postponed, I was getting ready bundling up.

        The NFL plays in the winter but that’s because they have their die-hards. Weather doesn’t mean anything when there are die-hards. That’s what MLS needs to continue focusing on developing.

    • Lorenzo says:

      What? He is wrong, and probably not doing his job or doing it ethically. Just because he can’t say everything is great doesn’t mean you say everything is bad. I fact, the last 3-4 years things for MLS have been looking, well, great! MLS is no doubt not a dominant talking point of sports conversation, but it is known and getting better. Could MLS be doing things faster? I think they have been doing A LOT in recent years to build a plethora of stadiums, improve youth signings, soften DP rules, bring back the reserve league, enlarge the salary cap, etc.

      Your statement in 95% incorrect.

    • Seriously? says:

      John, what was he right about exactly? About how after 18 years it should be equal or even superior to the other sports leagues that had long existed in the country? Soccer is also the most played sport by youth, but that isn’t really the same thing as the most popular, as I’d say popularity is based on opinions. I’m not sure if you asked all the youth of the country who their favorite athlete or team is, that they’d think soccer. But you can’t deny that there are many many more kids today who now dream of becoming professional soccer players than there were 20 years ago. Is that all down to MLS, no, but MLS certainly is a large part of it.

      Also, is it all or nothing for you? You seem to want him to put pressure on the league to improve, but are his only choices either to be overly and incorrectly negative, or say everything is great? He couldn’t say something like ‘while the league has grown, and seems to be improving every year, it still has a lot of room to grow, and we hope in the not too distant future MLS can become a major player on the world scene’?

      Is MLS perfect? Obviously not, but nor is there anyone saying it is perfect. I simply can’t believe that we have a league that’s literally been around for less than one single generation, in a country with many much more established sports, and where professional soccer has failed so many times before, yet people are complaining that the league should be doing things faster, as if fast growth would be so easy. Growing fast worked great for the NASL, didn’t it.

    • BCE says:

      An absolutely mindless and clueless comment

    • bottlcaps says:

      Beg to disagree, sir. Blatter’s job is to oversee the various football entities that comprise the entity known a FIFA. Nowhere does his office declare that football should conform to one “model”., ie European football, in terns of seasons, style, national organization. FIFA does supply an organization composed of rules, fair play encouragements and technical support for all confederations, but it gives it’s confederation of Leagues, the latitude to establish it’s own seasons as it sees fit.

      As it stands now, FIFA allows several European countries to have “outlier” seasons that do not mesh with the regular Euro Season. These countries face debilitating weather, that in short, could pose health problems to players and fans, should the season be played during these times. Both Russia and most of the Scandinavian Leagues fall under this exception. Why not the MLS?

      So some one should send Mr. Blatter an monthly weather chart outlining the temperatures in Montreal, Toronto, Columbus, Kansas City, Chicago and even New York/NJ, Philly and Boston, during the months from December to March

      With close to 70 percent of the MLS audiences in these NE cities, the MLS would stand to suffer should the season be played during the bad winter months. Attendance would suffer, injuries would multiply. The season would come into DIRECT competition with the NFL and collegiate season/postseason along with all the bowl games. The MLS would come into DIRECT competition with NHL Hockey and NBA basketball. The MLS would be taking, IMHO, a giant step back.

      In short, a man with NO or LITTLE knowledge of American professional and collegiate sports demeans the MLS , who have grown the brand, audience and competitive ability of a fledgling league, beyond expectations, by criticizing it’s efforts in a very public way. It’s time for a change at the top.

      I think Mr. Blatter is frustrated hat the BIG American dollar, the role of American Billionaires in European football and the control the MLS should shove more money his way through higher rights and TV revenues..His comments , I hope, reflect ONLY his opinion and NOT that of FIFA.

  2. el paso tx wants NASL says:

    Let him talk……mls will never be hold back , especially with our soccer fans. Its now or never garber and nasl and usl.

  3. el paso tx wants NASL says:

    by the way, has he ever been to a nba, nfl or Mlb city, I don’t think so. What f*uk nut

  4. Dr_n-Do says:

    I don’t understand the comparison of the Chinese League to MLS. Sure, the modern incarnations of each league started around the 94 world cup, but when it comes to attendance… the MLS takes the cake. Seriously, what is Blatter’s problem with MLS and US soccer? Is he really that angered by the fact that 4 other major sports leagues in the US are more well known? Give the league some time. Cascadia has only been represented in the league for a few years.

    • @NotAlexis says:

      As much as I think it is an important number, attendance doesn’t equate to success. It’s a great start for the league but it doesn’t mean anything unless you’re selling billboard ads for each successful arena. The TV ratings (I.e. general interest when compared to MLB, NBA, NFL, and to some degree NHL) will be a huge number to be able to tout. When you start seeing MLS scores & highlights on sportscenter, you’ll know we’re on our way.

    • T-lover says:

      What makes the success story of the MLS better, is the US economy is in bad shape. Yet MLS is still getting, 18,000 plus a game. We are also starting to see a ladder being build. With MLS and USl merger talks and the NASL growing, progress is being made.

    • Henry says:

      i would say China is ahead of the USA when it comes to domestic soccer. They already have a promotion/relegation pyramid.

      • T-lover says:

        China is not ahead of soccer in their domestic league,it’s time we destroy this myth of promotion/relegation makes you a better league. China can’t even pay their players, MLS has a much better system then China.

        • Dr_n-Do says:

          Couldn’t have said it better. Also, a salary cap is the reason MLS can pay their players and the chinese super league cannot. As for attendance, just look at the population numbers. 20,000 every game in a country where association football is the 5th most popular sport as well as being in cities which are generally less than a million inhabitants (not metro area). In China, 20,000 a match seems like a way easier number to attain.

        • beachbum says:

          agreed T-lover, and that is rare for you and me :)

      • Bobb says:

        This is a joke, right?
        What if the Premier League eliminated pro/rel next year, would that make China the superior league?

        • Henry says:

          no of course not. But it would decimate the english leagues and soccer culture in that country.

          China, Japan, USA are all developing countries in the soccer world. Part of development is developing the soccer pyramid. A strong pyramid means more teams which means less barrier to entry for players and shorter distance from player to club. This translates to a better national team.

          So in this respect China and Japan are ahead of the USA.

          • T-lover says:

            P/R and relegation doesn’t make a strong soccer pyramid..You can have a similar system to baseball and still have a top soccer pyramid. Which is what MLS is trying to do with the USL.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Really? Style over substance. Their marquee French signings left because they were frustrated and not necessarily being paid. Their teams are not regionally competitive like ours. On and on. That they copied pro/rel doesn’t make them as good as the EPL or even as good as us.

        • Footballer says:

          You know this because you watch the Chinese league on a weekly basis or you’re just giving an opinion?

    • Don Dallas says:

      “What is Blatter’s problem with MLS and US soccer”?

      Simple, in ’94 he saw it as a great, untapped piggy bank that he could rob. Blatter is getting older; he does not have much more time to wait.

      Not only has the revenue from the four other sports not folded into his wallet but also the transparency under which the ML:S operates is problematic.

      China…now there is a market that knows how to distribute the lucre.

      To coin ‘The Godfather’, in America, he doesn’t even get a chance to “wet his beak.”

      • beachbum says:

        AWESOME comment. That is insight right there.

      • JCC says:

        Blatter wasn’t president of FIFA in 1994, Joao Havelange was.

      • beto says:

        very true he is not concerned with the quality of play or stability of the league, future developments or anything else besides the amount of money that FIFA receives in form of revenue or bribes.

        Basically the amount of $/capita that the USA sends to FIFA is not enough in his opinion and we in America don’t care!

        The only truth to his statement was that China doesn’t have other 3-4 other sports leagues that have a longer history and larger revenue than our soccer league. Of course we have a more difficult path to the top but I think we are doing okay for now.

  5. BOB says:

    Sporting KC!!!!!. Not sure what this guy is basing anything on but he clearly has not been to KANSAS CITY.

    • HoBo says:

      He hasn’t been to any MLS games, he wants our money but hates us at the same time.

      I think US soccer is growing at a steady sustainable rate. When you add the other popular sports in our country soccer has done very well moving forward. In the past 15 years since playing youth soccer into college its incredible how much it has moved towards the mainstream and even passing attendance for some other sports.

  6. @NotAlexis says:

    I think he was definitely talking about MLS in terms of getting the league to bridge the gap between being the most popular sport for youth participation and its popularity with the general public. It makes sense. I think it’s easy to get defensive but if you think about it it is an anomaly that its so popular among the youth yet relatively unpopular with 18-34 yr old viewers (see MLS Cup ratings). It seems like things are changing and for the better but it does seem as though things are moving slowly. Cause/effect with the strict financial stronghold on the league? I’m not sure. Frankly I hope it continues to build because I love it and support it and try to grow it myself but getting friends to take the trip into NJ to see a RBNY match is like pulling teeth.

    Did anyone read the nytimes article on the German league and how pumping effort, focus, and $ (via shared revenue) into development of local talent has vastly improved their domestic league financially as we’ll as had a tremendous impact on the success of their national team? Why haven’t we done that? Wtf are we waiting for? In speaking with w friend from Scotland he blatantly said “a country as big as yours with the resources and athletes you guys have you should be competing for a WC every 4 years whether or not your country gives a fuck about the sport” I have to say he’s right. Get rid of the pay-for-play system and develop the shit out of our youth through academies and the level of play will greatly increase, along with interest in the domestic league, as well as our national team. It’s a 10 year cycle. How long can we keep waiting for this to get done? I hope MLS is a top league worldwide as well as in our country but it start with developing our domestic talent instead to selling them to euro leagues and hoping they get good enough to help us win a World Cup and that alone builds interest in the sport.

    • T-lover says:

      You talk about Germany, maybe you haven’t read about the MLS and USL merger that would be a similar system, to what they have in Germany. As well as the millions of dollars that MLS invest in our youth system, shows MLS under stands youth development is the way to go. Just like Blatter,you also really have no clue whats going on.

    • Scott says:

      So your idea is to lock up young talent and never let it go overseas? Good luck signing the good players early. Why would any good player limit themselves to just one league? And not even a top league at that. You also talk about spending large sums of money on youth development? Most of these teams are money losers right now. Let them get into, or closer to, the black before they commit more of their money. The MLS has taken soccer from amature status and no teams to a fairly stable and growing 19 team league, with better status than the NHL, in a few years. It is widely available on TV and is developing players that can compete worldwide. In what? 20 yrs.? Impatient much? Think China has a better program? How much of it do you watch? How many of their players don’t get paid? Solid league with high salaries seeking players that don’t actually expect to get paid what we promise. Brilliant! Why didn’t MLS think of that?

      • T-lover says:

        “So your idea is to lock up young talent”. Yes stupid,just like any leagues around the globe that are trying to improve. I guess Galaxy had luck when they signed Zardes or other teams that have signed home grown players this year. To became a top league, idiot, you must invest in you academy. Is Liga MX, the best league in the world?no,however most of their players are domestic. Yes Idiot MLS spends a lot of their money on youth development. You have clubs like RSL that even have a RSL’s residency program. Your comment on china, makes you an idiot, that is not worth my time. Must be reading the same handbook of how to be an idiot, as Blatter.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      “In speaking with w friend from Scotland he blatantly said “a country as big as yours with the resources and athletes you guys have you should be competing for a WC every 4 years whether or not your country gives a f about the sport” I have to say he’s right.”

      well, i have to say he’s wrong. does he say the same thing about china or india? or even russia? they’re big countries with lots of resources, too.

      having a lot of athletes doesn’t really matter when the vast majority will pick football (american), basketball, or even–*vomit*–baseball over soccer. which is why i don’t really disagree with that part of what blatter said; it’s just that he’s just being a political opportunist about it.

    • Joe+G says:

      The number 1 factor keeping the US from breaking through in international performance is coaching. We don’t have enough qualified coaches to develop the players we have in the pipeline. That’s not going to change anytime soon because 1) good coaches cost money and there’s not enough money available to bring good coaches in or keep them in the game compared to other options, 2) there aren’t enough good coaches available even if we were able to import them and 3) it takes longer to develop good coaches than it does to develop players.

      • Cory says:

        Ben Olsen and Jason Kries disagree with you, sir. The good, young coaches, who are teaching attractive football, are beginning to reveal themselves. In the same way it took a while for Academy products to start getting signed, it took some time for experienced players, who know what type of football they liked to play, to start making the move to coaching.

        • Joe+G says:

          I’m not saying we don’t have good coaches. But we don’t have *enough* decent coaches to cover the 4 million plus youth players in the country. That is what holding us back — kids may not see their first well-trained soccer-only coach until they hit 16 (and some will be later than that).

      • super star says:

        The issues are complex but if you want to point to a single factor keeping soccer out of the main stream culture in the US it is Title IX. Sorry, but because boys have very little hope or even a dream of getting a soccer scholarship to a major university, the long team interest will be in the other sports.

        Cultural interest grows from the bottom up, little leagues, high school college, pros.
        .

        • beto says:

          the only pro sports that NCAA has helped have been football and basketball (and they still treat basketball as the little step-brother). Yes Title IX and lazy AD’s around the country are the reason why we don’t have good NCAA soccer programs at a lot of schools but its also the reason why there isn’t hockey and baseball programs at most schools; last I checked the pro leagues in those sports haven’t had any problems getting better and better athletes into their leagues. If NCAA can fix itself that would be great, but USSF, MLS, USL, NASL, etc shouldn’t bank on it, they have everything they need in their own hands to win.

          • Rory Miller says:

            Speaking of college soccer, that is another area of growth in the US. My favorite almost local college, the University of Louisville is now bringing in 5,000 fans for big matches. There’s division three clubs (League One) in England that aren’t doing that well, and that’s despite the power of promotion/relegation which some of you act like p/r is the most powerful force in sport. Seriously, do you think we would be better off with Toronto and LA2 (Chivas) dropping out to make room for Minnesota and Tampa Bay? Would that draw more fans to watch the games?

      • Footballer says:

        @Joe+G this country does not have the talent, coaches are not the problem. We need to stop the delusion that Jozy Altidore is going to be like Didier Drogba. Drogba growing up was not playing with kids of lesser talent in France; he was competing with top kids.

        American fans need to stop labeling every average kid as the next top football player. Let him develop first. This country does not have a world class player, have never developed one (World class players do not play the majority of their careers in MLS; Landon Donovan).

        MLS has a great model, great presentation in terms of it’s facility, stadiums, but the product on the pitch is below par and the pay as well. Talent in this country needs to grow, they are mostly average.

  7. Dustin says:

    I think the problem with American soccer is that millions of kids play the game but we have no cultural soccer identity. We don’t play the game any particular style, there isn’t really an American style beyond working really hard. It would be one thing if our National program could find skilled players from around the country and put them to work, the infastructure just isn’t there and it’s failing. In South American countries and in Spain kids are found all over the place and given the right coaching to move up and create a large pool which they can draw from. In the US that doesn’t seem to happen yet, or at least if it is it’s not yielding any results.

    I guess we’ll have to wait for this world cup, but the recent results of our youth teams and our failure to even qualify for the Olympics has be doubtful. Also the insistence of attention being paid to NCAA play which is for older bigger more physically fit players who lack the skill and finess professional play requires at the high level.

    I just hope I’m dead wrong and we’re going to see a strong surge of great players.

    • super star says:

      What “national program” are you talking about? Do you really think the “National Program” is so smart they know how to fix everything. Who is this program and why are they so smart and who is going to pick them and for how long and what is the accountability and what resources will they take and from whom will they take it and where will they spend it and how will we know.

      A broad based, grass roots growth is the only sustainable model. Youth leagues, High Schools, Universities (major universities with men’s teams), and then the professional sport will grow.

      It is strong at the Youth leagues now. It is catching at the High School level. The next step is university interest across the country.

      • Dustin says:

        University? By that time they’re TOO OLD. There’s no point in cutting out the best growing years of a players life by sending them to college. No other country does that, it’s retarded.

        • T-lover says:

          Just because no other countries has our system doesn’t make it retarded. Many top basketball leagues have their players playing pro in Europe at the age of 14, like Rubio. While our players play college, yet they are not better then the NBA. Our system has not yet been given the room to grow, let it grow.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Nothing to do with success. Look at Stoke, look at the Dynamo, look at Bradley’s US team. I don’t think fans care about style as much as results. They will watch a lunchpail team that gets results.

      Ditto some of the handwringing about development, coaching, etc. I don’t think Blatter was talking about that, he was talking about media presence. MLS has major league attendance and a solid product. That it could be better, or even lavishly staffed, coached, and developed, is really pretty tangential to how soccer comes across on sports channels and the US media, which is we get treated like hockey or Indycar despite a stronger fanbase. The media presence is a lagging indicator.

      • Dustin says:

        Fans care about winning. You can’t win unless you develop a style it seems. Every notable team throughout history has one.

        • Rory Miller says:

          Kids don’t stick with soccer because they pick up pretty quickly on the fact that the public doesn’t care. They don’t see it on tv enough, their music and film stars aren’t associated with it, and it is not a part of the pop culture the way the NFL and NBA are. We are finally breaking into the video game market though so there is hope.

        • Footballer says:

          What’s this definition of success? MLS clubs have never won a title regionally. When was the last time US won CONCACAF Gold Cup? 2007. Which is better winning against Italy but no silverware? Not competing at U-17. U-20 or Olympics while Mexico has won U-17 (twice), took home third place @ U-20 and Gold in London. That’s success not glorified wins in friendly matches. 2013 Gold Cup will determine what is success. If Mexico wins, that will be three in a row; that’s success.

  8. Henry says:

    Blatter is right.

    MLS is not part of American society. It’s not part of our culture like the other American leagues are. The difference between those leagues and MLS is that those leagues(MLB,NFL,NBA,NHL) are the top leagues in their sport. So it’s very difficult for MLS to break into the culture when it’s not the league to watch.

    MLS has a very hardcore niche fan base and they show up for the games. But look at the TV ratings. They are very low. American soccer fans for the most part are not watching MLS. So there is potential there. The league has to appeal to these fans that for various reasons are tuning MLS out.

    • T-lover says:

      STOP LOOKING AT NATIONAL TV RATING! MLS is more of a regional sport, which means local ratings tell you more then National ratings.

      • Yusef says:

        You both make great points. I’ve been a soccer fan since watching Roger Mila and Cameroon make their run in the 1990 World Cup. I go to London each year for Premiership games, go to US WCQ matches, Gold Cup finals that feature the US, and attended the last two World Cups. However, I just can’t get into MLS. The quality of play is not on par with the products that are widely available on TV. I’m not going to watch I-AA college football or minor league baseball either. But that is what gets to the regionalism of the sport. I’ve lived in St. Louis and San Francisco/Oakland for the last seven years without a team. I would have been a season ticket holder if we had a team (San Jose is not part of the MSA). Our country is too massive for all of these Cities to have top flight teams, but to get to the grassroots fans, there needs to be a squad to support. I know it won’t happen, but promotion/relegation is the only way to expand into the communities, giving teams/cities a shot at competing in MLS. I think US Soccer is already loved by most Americans by the way the country got behind the WC teams in 2002 and 2010, and the women’s tems. MLS will only go so far.

        • Paul says:

          I know that Blatter wouldn’t like it, but there is no reason why MLS couldn’t have a team in almost every major metropolitan area if the interest exists. If it would make more money for the owners, I doubt that they would object.

      • Harry Takenapp says:

        With regard to the NHL, they have their own problems, like not even playing right now. More than half the audience doesn’t or never played the game on a entry level, they just get gassed up on beer and hope for shirt wrasslin’ and fights.

      • JCC says:

        In the grand scheme of things national ratings matter.

      • 2tone says:

        Exactly. Most people don’t realise that regional TV ratings are very good for most MLS teams.

      • Footballer says:

        Really? Don’t look at national ratings? That’s a joke right. It’s national ratings that brings in ESPN, NBC Sports Group, Univision etc not regional ratings; they don’t care about ratings in one city it’s the overall ratings.

    • HoBo says:

      also look at what channels the games are on, all special/extra purchase channels that most don’t have. NBC, CBS, Fox are basic cable channels that show other sports.

      It’ll change in the future when sponsors see the money for them to advertise!

  9. Bobb says:

    Yes MLS is not nearly as much a part of US national society / culture as we all want it to be, but that is changing.

    It’s a part of the culture in Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake, and Kansas City. That’s only four places, but it’s a start. Especially considering all of that has happened just in the last half decade.

    The best thing MLS can do besides getting its current teams into nice soccer specific stadiums in easily accessible urban areas, is CONTINUE EXPANSION.
    There are plenty of cities that could work for the same reasons that those four cities work: Orlando, San Antonio, Sacramento, Las Vegas (no sports competition besides UNLV), etc. There are plenty of niches that can be filled.

    Right now, MLS is only in like HALF the metropolitan areas in the US. It’s in just 15 American markets, when most US sports leagues are in close to 30. Expand expand expand.

    • David s. says:

      I agree with most of what you wrote, but it’s also true that for various reasons (NBA team left; only an NBA team among the Big 4 sports; MLB and NFL teams are brutal) those four, smaller cities (none a top 10 in population) having their MLS team be the talk of their town is very different than making it happen in Boston or Chicago or Dallas, much less New York/LA. There are still significant challenges ahead.

    • Victor the Crab says:

      HA! Most of those cities you mention are a joke for expansion. Las Vegas is a transient city where most of the population works in 24 hour shifts, and Orlando has far less pro experience than their bigger neighbours in Florida – Miami and Tampa Bay – who had their MLS teams revoked.

      You want a city for expansion? Look to St. Louis, where there is a deep history and culture of soccer in that region.

  10. Terryb260 says:

    I saw Blatter’s comments as defensive and somewhat calculating. The comment I locked onto was when he said that he thought 18 years from the 1994 World Cup was enough for MLS to be really big. Immediately, this struck me as cover for giving the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. The implicit message seemed to be “We took a chance with the United States in 1994, hoping that it would help soccer conquer a new frontier. This failed.”
    Taking another look, by downing MLS and painting an outdated picture of soccer’s popularity in the U.S., Blatter would also be refuting claims that a 2022 World Cup in the U.S. would have been a huge success. It’s as if he’s saying no one would go to that World Cup, or if they did, it would be temporary.
    I don’t buy that this was tough love for the U.S. Soccer market. Blatter’s comments are by far the most negative you will hear about soccer in America these days. Even those who down MLS don’t doubt that the sport in general has advanced considerably in the last 18 years.
    I also don’t buy that Blatter was just being a raving madman. His comments seemed to be too forced and purposeful.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      +1. blatter will say whatever gives him more political capital; right now, it’s bashing mls and praising china. whether or not those comments are correct is irrelevant; as ives said, his comments were ‘misguided’.

      • PD says:

        This. Blather is woo-ing a new cash cow (China) while sitting for an interview near the udder of his current cash cow (Qatar).

        Money is blather’s aim. Real growth takes times. MLS is working slow and steady.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        He doesn’t have a clue, leaving aside the financial health of the league, in a pretty open competitive space in Asia, China last won an AFC CL title in 90, last made a final in 98. In that time-period MLS has won 2 CONCACAF titles and runner-upped twice more. If FIFA hadn’t botched the 2000-ish World Club Cup, LA would have participated and I don’t think he’d feel he had a leg to stand on. But once they turned our CL into a serious competition and not a weekend tournament, and we’ve suffered from the scheduling, the Mexican money edge has imposed itself and so he can go around acting like we’re a nothing. But the reality is we’ve created a league which is the 2nd or 3rd best in the region, from essentially a minor-league presence in the early 90s. In the era when CONCACAF limited the amount of teams a country fielded in CL to fewer….I think it was more apparent from a regional power standpoint what we’ve accomplished.

        And when you compare that to China, no comparison.

    • Joe+G says:

      I don’t know how he could contend a US-held World Cup might be a failure. The 1994 WC still holds the record for total attendance at 3,587,538 — and that is with 12 fewer games than the 4 following WCs.

      While some of the criticism may be valid, Blatter would be better served by hailing what has been accomplished with a hint of regret it hasn’t been bigger than by downplaying the development in the US.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      If he finds our league frustrating his head will explode from Russia and Qatar. I do agree he’s selling the claimed benefits of a World Cup. I think the reality is vis a vis the A-League (ours not Australia’s) it did kick start a superior product and attendance grabber. It’s not the EPL and he might have had dreams, but it’s a growing, healthy league that deserves a stronger media presence than what it has.

    • wilyboy says:

      Exactly. The fact that anyone is agreeing with Blatter clearly demonstrates a lack of self esteem and an understanding of subtext.

  11. OBRick says:

    I am a soccer coach and I assign MLS games for more kids to watch. Several players and their parents are now fans. Imagine if every soccer coach did that?

    • Bobb says:

      +100000000000

    • MLSsnob says:

      +20000, I like where your heads at.

    • beachbum says:

      we’re doing it out here too. it’s happening. And that is against the backdrop of our country’s love for baseball, football and basketball. Still we’re progressing. Blatter can suck on that

      • Red says:

        thats aweseome man, great job.

        • beachbum says:

          I’m only peripherally involved.

          what’s most awesome is the level of commitment from such a wide range of parents and kids. Wasn’t like that when I was growing at all, instead there was one guy or coach who had to do everything. Now there’s a growing awareness and understanding of the game to the point that many parents in our community prefer it to baseball, certainly to pop warner, and the kids are now CHOOSING it over those other sports as well, not just playing soccer because their parents enroll them in it.

          I’m a little surprised by this aspect of it; there are top young basketball athletes here, for example, choosing to play soccer year round instead because they prefer it…that is awesome!

          • Rory Miller says:

            Maybe it is time for us to look to the much maligned high school soccer setup to produce lifelong FANS of soccer instead of focusing on bashing HS soccer for its shortcomings compared to pay to play club soccer.

    • Footballer says:

      First off you don’t need to assign matches to kids who play football to watch. My friend’s son wakes up @ 6 am to watch matches on ESPN and FOX Soccer. The kid has to love the game not forced down his throat because coach says I should watch it as an assignment. Do coaches from other sports assign kids to watch other sports? That’s a rhetorical question. Also I won’t assign a kid to watch MLS. He would never know about better played football. He would only think that MLS is his ceiling. MLS is still young so people let it grow. It has great facilities, great production, but the football and the pay is still way below par.

  12. gtcb says:

    Forget what hes saying. Why is he saying it? Theres ALWAYS an ulterior motive with Sepp.(Heres a hint, its usually either money or power, or both)

  13. Michael says:

    It’s hard to take this crook seriously. I mean the balls on this guy, he gets paid off to send the World Cup to Qatar when it should have gone to the US. Then complains about MLS. Reinforcing soccer in the US with the 2022 WC would have been much more valuable than wasting a WC on Qatar. I guess everyman has his price.

  14. Nate Dollars says:

    “His ignorance doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. He is a dinosaur, a keeper of a tainted legacy who is playing out the string as soccer’s so-called leader. Rather than respected official, his semi-coherent rants make him sound more like the old uncle you tolerate but don’t take seriously.”

    ives, your last paragraph was f’ing awesome. can’t help but hear it in harvey keitel’s voice.

  15. MLSsnob says:

    I think this goes to a broader problem of credibility, outside of the UK, we aren’t taken seriously. 75% of sports fans in America can’t tell you all of the teams in MLS, in Europe its worse. The fans there echo what they hear from guys like Raymond Domench and Sepp Blatter because they don’t know any better. Not that it matters much. MLS will continue to grow despite them. We’ll make inroads here and eventually grow to a point where we’ll have to be reckoned with.

  16. Nate Dollars says:

    also, ives, i feel like it’s unnecessary to say “Blatter delivers misguided comments”, when you could just say “Blatter talks”, and it would mean the same thing.

  17. Dave says:

    Unfortunately for MLS and Blatter, generational shifts take generations. The 18-34 crowd played little to some soccer. The kids today are now coached by 30-40 yr olds who grew up in the 1994 WC era.
    There aren’t enough of those fans to generate TV ratings. One of the issues with soccer in the US is a disconnect between high level and low level soccer. This board is full of high level fans, who want a pipeline to NT players, meaning ignore rec soccer only high level club soccer is relavent. But in the long run, TV ratings are made from rec players who learned to love the game.
    Our coaching base is growing because of demographics. When my kids were small, few of the coaches in the rec leagues had any soccer experience. 12 years later, I see more and more former high school/college players coaching. I heard the same story of my generation, so our coaching base is on exponential growth. It is not just their competance (I see a lot of former players fail the coach part) but their love of the nuances that change kids.
    The problem with funding “youth soccer” to grow the game is that the funds get shuttled into club/academy systems. To grow grassroots support, you need to aim a little lower.

    • RAMONE says:

      Agree with you Dave.

      The real secret about Cascadia, IMO (I am 42 and grew up here) is that there is an extra generation of soccer fans who were pulled in by the NASL in the 70s. It was my father’s generation which was the one who coached having never played the game (people now in their 60s-70s). If you look around Jeld Wen on game days you will see a fair number of these guys (my Father included) who love the game along with a huge slew of 30-50 year olds who were their kids who grew up playing and have never stopped (or took a brief hiatus to basketball, football, baseball but now realize beyond beer league softball the best organized adult sports options are indoor and outdoor soccer).

      Even if MLS has a small base compared to other Professional US sports, just it being there is important as soccer took a big step back nationally for the 14 years when NASL withered and MLS started. While pay is far lower, the vast majority of just random sports fans in Portland and Seattle know exactly who the Timbers and Sounders are. While there are some avowed soccer haters, there are also people who don’t care about NFL, MLB or NBA in those cities too. The next trick is to get more casual sports fans who might follow the Blazers or Seahawks and watch 30-70% of their games or pay attention to the results at least to do the same with the Timbers and Sounders. That hasn’t happened yet, but when the games are impossible to get into if either team ever gets really good it will help tremendously.

  18. kryptonite says:

    I think Blatter is clueless about soccer penetrating the culture of the U.S. There is nothing inherently more vital and interesting about soccer than other sports. I don’t mean that disparagingly. Soccer is a great game to play and watch as are basketball, football, hockey, cricket, rugby, etc. There is one reason that soccer has such a global attraction. It is by far the cheapest and easiest sport to organize on a casual basis (minimal equipment and surfaces requirements). Also, there is a reason that so many American children play soccer: it is the cheapest, easiest and safest sport for the youngest children to play. That soccer is children’s first introduction to sports does not mean that it fascinates children more than other sports that they see their parents,siblings, and friends following. Sports have ebb and flow (see boxing and horse racing were the biggest sporting events in the U.S. 100 years ago). However, eighteen years is not a reasonable time frame for one sport to compete with or unseat other sports that have dominated the attention of a culture for many decades. Blatter just is not credible when he says that the number of children playing soccer should mean that soccer from the U.S. should be dominating the soccer world.

    • Brad says:

      And that’s not even mentioning coaching. How many of those kids playing are being coached by their dads that played baseball growing up but got roped into coaching their son’s rec team. Then the kid wants to get better and the dad understands the game better so he goes through a few two hour classes and now he’s coaching a club team. Not sure that’s gonna grow the next Lionel Messi. Plus, our club teams are all about $$$ instead of growth. At least they are in VA.

      Not to ding the US or anything, but we also have a tendency to think we’re fantastic and overhype individuals which hinders their growth and expands their ego — See Adu, Freddy or every US announcer — Twellman, Lalas, Harkes, Wynalda. They all think they’re Gods gift to soccer and yet couldn’t have made a top flight teal in their prime.

      My point is that I agree with Kryptonite — more kids does not mean better results. And I think we do a little too much coddling and back patting to the kids that do turn out well.

    • blag says:

      You have some valid points, but I would like to say that I am not sure if soccer is the “cheapest” sport to play for kids in the US. One of the problems with the youth system is the amount of money parents spend to play in different soccer leagues. I do not know if it is the same for other sports, but I know it can be quite expensive for soccer.

      • Joe+G says:

        I believe that the cost is pretty similar once kids get into “elite” and traveling teams. Hockey & baseball are pretty comparable (basketball has found a sponsorship model that helps, but it costs out of pocket, too).

        Once a kid passes over the threshold, it costs the parents money (and probably why kids are pushed to specialize early — mom & dad can’t afford -2- travel sports).

      • kryptonite says:

        By saying that the sport is the cheapest for kids I was referring to its minimum requirements to play casually. All it requires is something resembling a round object and some space. Compare that to hockey and hockey appears to be the game of the wealthy. In the US soccer competes with soccer moms alternating their children’s limited days among soccer, swimming, instruments, voice, etc. In most of the world a pick up game of soccer is the only game in town. That gives most of the world a jump start of developing skills ahead of American kids. Klinnsman has commented on this huge disadvantage that will not go away any time soon. Then the lack of coaching, pay for play, lack of local clubs and academies, nascent domestic league and all of the other host of problems in the american soccer landscape makes it hard for me to understand how Blatter thinks the short euphoria of a world cup in the US should make the US dominate in world football in 18 years.

  19. Redneck says:

    Blatter does have a point. Although MLS has been growing at a good rate since it started, the league–and American professional soccer in general–has struggled to gain a foothold in the national consciousness. It’s one thing to be behind basketball, football, and baseball, but MLS is also behind hockey in terms of revenue, TV coverage, etc. This is hardly surprising, given the history of those other sports in our country.

    But Blatter fails to understand that this is changing. Kids growing up today have more teams, better facilities, better coaching and greater access to top-rate soccer on TV. This is making the sport grow like mad. If we are patient, and if we keep working to play soccer, promote it, and shell out $$$ for it, soccer will overtake some of those other sports within the next 20 years. Already, lots of parents refuse to let their kids play football. Hockey is too expensive for many kids. And baseball is boring. (Basketball is a great sport, though, and it’s only going to get more popular.) Soccer will surely move up the pecking order. It’s really just a question of time and demographics.

  20. Alex C says:

    Agree

    • Alex C says:

      I meant to say that I agree with the article and with the growing popularity of soccer in the US. One thing we need to continue working on in soccer though is reduction of head injuries. Though not as bad as in American football, they are a still concern to many parents. It would help to have better leadership at the world level to promote this.

  21. Victor the Crab says:

    Sepp (Gall) Blatter just keeps on Blather-ing. What a corrupt and useless POS he is. The sooner he dissapears from his roll of sliming the game of soccer, the better the game will be.

  22. ed - houston says:

    LOL, he is a eurosnob, what do we expect.

  23. ed - houston says:

    LOL, he is a eurosnob, what do we expect.

  24. Chicago Josh says:

    Who cares what this corrupt, out-of-touch, ego-maniac has to say? For God’s sake, he still thinks racism in the sport he overseas is a non-issue.

  25. MMV says:

    Blatter is a 76 yr. old talking head that is out of touch with reality. His 15 yr. reign as FIFA President is not because he’s been outstanding but because he’s cut deals and brided his way to the top. MLS has many faults but none are Blatter’s issues. He shouldn’t be sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. The sooner Blatter is out the better for world soccer. I hope someone has enough balls to run against him and it better not be another clown like Platini.

  26. Todd says:

    A disclaimer, I am an MLS supporter, and believe in the futue of the leage, but until MLS starts paying salaries that attract global superstars and up-and-coming superstars (ex. Neymar) the casual sports fan could care less about MLS. In the United States we are all about superstars. Who can MLS point to as being a superstar in their prime right now? What else does it say, when the best American players rather go to Europe then stay in MLS. On top of it, I still believe youth coaching in this country is lacking. The American player’s techincal ability is much less than other players around the world. Our soccer intelligence, and the way an American player reads the game versus established soccer nations cannot even be compared. Although the Men’s national team continues to get results through hard work, grit, determination, overall athleticism of our players, it is clearly evident that our senior squad in techincal terms does not match the skills of Mexico, Netherlands, France, Russia, Italy, Brazil, or Argentina. Granted, soccer more or less is a new sport in our country, and over time it will continue to grow, however Blatter is correct when saying that the league has not made enough of a staple in the American sports conversation over the past 18 years. I do agree MLS’ approach to slow and steady growth, but I believe that the salary cap should be about $10-$20 million per team, and dedicate more resources to signing and attracting players such as Neymar. If Neymar would come to the United States, I believe he could be the one person, even more so than Beckham that would take MLS to the next level.

    • Karlthewonderyak says:

      Because upping the salary by a factor of 10 is a great idea for a league that is struggling to profit as it is?

  27. George depame says:

    How do you get kids to watch MLS? My household has access to the EPL, the Mexican leagues, the Bundesliga, Brazilian seria A, other South American leagues. They kow more about these leagues than MLS. Their friends in school watch the superstars around the world. Kids aren’t stupid. They don’t watch arena football…they watch NFL. I have asked my kids why they don’t watch MLS. They said their friends watch Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, etc. then they are playing when MLS games are on TV. My kds got Messi jerseys for Christmas. Not one asked for anything MLS related. This isn’t a slam on MLS…this is what MLS competes with.

    • JCC says:

      This is on point. I have a friend that just got into soccer a few years ago after watching the 2008 Euro Cup and he’s tried so many times to get into watching an MLS game and just can’t through a full game. He’s a fan of the Bundesliga and says he can see the difference in quality right away and this is a guy that almost zero knowledge of soccer before 2008.

    • Fredo says:

      Refuse to buy them Barca jerseys and buy them Galaxy jerseys instead.

    • Dimidri says:

      Your arena football analogy is not parallel, all the benefits one gets from MLS over the EPL (actual connection to team, seeing live sports, the ability to meet the players often, travel, etc.) are all things (minus the meeting players part) that rooting for your hometown NFL team gives you, so the AFL doesn’t really have any thing extra to benefit you. If you went to a mediocre D1 school, I have a feeling you would watch their football games on Saturdays and then the great NFL games on Sundays-that’s the personal connection.

      Moreover, not only are they not played at the same time of day, they for the most part take place in DIFFERENT TIMES OF YEAR. There is no tradeoff. Zilch. And if it is really that had to watch an MLS game after watching the EPL I guess you never watch college/high school basketball, etc. Even then, the difference is less, because while the NBA/NFL has a virtual monopoly on talent, the EPL does not, it is more decentralized across various leagues to the point where the 30th best soccer league in the world is almost assuredly better than the 30th best basketball league.

      My buddy’s kid go to meet and train with Sean Johnson a few times, somebody who was invited to train recently with Manchester United (couldn’t do it because of a conflict) and did train with Everton. Sure, he’s had his downs but there is a great chance my friend’s son will personally know an EPL player. That access will never happen in any other league, in the US or elsewhere.

    • MLSsnob says:

      Educate them on what a strong league means to the future of this sport in the US. I assume they support the USNT? A strong MLS is essential to a good NT.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      You explain that if you want to grow MLS you have to invest in it. If you want to give your money to ManU for tour tickets and jerseys, and your viewership to their soccer, we will never catch up. Since 99.99% of Americans’ best chance to play soccer is the US pyramid, that’s where your primary energy should go, if you want to have your own soccer future. How much money does Man U spend on developing American youth?

      FWIW, anyone around in 96 knows the level of play has risen dramatically and MLS is catching up. The game is played more on the ground and faster than it used to be.

      I respect the other leagues and watch them in the offseason. I acknowledge some of them are superior. But you are not going to close the gap by paying for Milan tickets on some cash-harvest tour.

      I also think some of the Europhilia is naive and childlike, I’m going to be a fan of some team whose stadium I never visit, perhaps because of some player who might transfer out (ahem, Dempsey), and if they start to play poor I’ll be a fan of someone else. People often go through a phase of being a “Yankee fan” so to speak because it’s nice to watch high level play by “your team” in a sport of interest. But the teams that are up now are down next year, and I think at some point people demand a lasting connection. At which point you can either go local with MLS, or you can settle on some team you might see once in your life, that might have one American player in their system in a generation.

  28. adam says:

    Sepp Blatter is a moron, but I do think that the salary cap is holding us back. We need larger annual increases to the salary cap so that the league can grow faster without bankrupting the league. We are loosing far too many talents to other leagues due to the salary cap constraints on teams. This keeps our competitive advantage at a slower growth rate than it really could be. Currently each MLS team has an annual 30% turnover rate that I believe should be reduced and can be reduced if the cap has larger cap increases. Dont get me wrong, teams do need a turnover rate to unload players that arent contributing to make room for players that will. I also believe some of the turnover are players that contribute greatly, but their contract has an annual salary increase in which the cap forces the team to sell them thus taking the competitive advantage away from the team.
    Another thing I think that needs done is a reorganization of the soccer pyramid where we have a more distinguished top tier 2nd tier and 3rd tier soccer. Currently the “Pyramid” looks very shaky with the disorganization of the NASL and USL. Also, once the 2nd and 3rd tier are more stable, I believe we should revisit the thought of promotion/relegation in the league. I believe this will make the league far more competitive in the long run.
    On one hand, I agree that we have had far more growth than Sepp is giving us credit for and there is a crowded sports market in the US compared with other countries which keeps the growth rate down. On the other hand I believe that now is the time to put our peverbial “foot on the gas” now that the MLS is at a level never seen before in the US so we can push the league into the next level. The MLS needs to take the sports market by storm and show that we are a regional power.
    Please respond with thoughts to my ideas.

  29. Scott says:

    I think although ONE important point is brought up by Blatter, his point of view is just SO short-sited in regards to the MLS.
    Firstly, on his short-sitedness, to compare the MLS with any other premier league around the globe is irrational and is an apples-to-oranges comparison from the onset and simply ignorant.
    1) Having hundreds of existing semi-professional clubs, in nearly every instance, gave the non-US professional leagues the advantage to be able to make unified leagues with tables and promotion/relegation with far greater ease.
    2) Having those same clubs/cultural awareness/popularity in the non-US countries already existing for decades prior to the formation of the foreign leagues allowed them to “hit the ground growing” so to speak.
    To expect the MLS to overcome ONLY those two obstacles in 20 years is absurd. Money alone can’t solve those issues. Unless Blatter’s wish is to have the MLS simply be a redux of the NASL, essentially a foreign league on US soil. Look at the other sports traditionally viewed as American and their success overseas. Why isn’t basketball even in the same universe as football/soccer in Europe.. same rationale.
    The only point I will concede to Blatter and Im not sure it can ever be remedied is that of more closely aligning the MLS schedule with that of other global leagues. Weather for one is difficult to overcome, although the Russian Premier League seems to have overcome the weather factor. Perhaps making the MLS run from August to December (with northern clubs finishing in the South) and then from February to May (with northern clubs starting in the South)? Non-EPL leagues have “winter breaks”. Perhaps inviting the MLS champion to play in the Champions League is a pipe dream huh?

  30. Tony in Quakeland says:

    There isn’t an opinion of Blatter’s that wouldn’t be changed by a suitcase full of money…

  31. Heft says:

    MLS is growing at a pace that will be self-sustaining. They are building the league with salary caps, and micro-management for a reason. Blatter seems to not recognize that while the salary cap may be keeping the international players from coming to the league, it is protecting all of the teams while the infrastructure and support is being built. Money is hurting the sport in a few of the best leagues, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some things such as a salary cap, could be implemented in European first divisions.

    MLS could really be stronger, but that will come later. I think that the teenage generation now will bring the league major growth.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Mhmm, if we opened the caps and player limits and let LA and NY buy as they like, we’d increase attendance some more, but we’d re-create the European big-team dominance, and I think it’d deteriorate back down to 12 teams or so over time, because the small market teams would either get in over their head or become a perennial underclass that fans were less interested in watching. For all the talk about how “exciting” pro-rel is, I don’t think US fans realize the level of stress involved when the only way of making it interesting is whether the league drops you, and every little point has to make you happy.

      Just look at Toronto. That keeps up long enough and you’ll have turned a great fanbase into an indifferent mass. The relative parity in MLS tries to avoid fans bailing from tiered quality and spending. FWIW, there’s a risk that the Beckham rule is already creating its little Galaxy juggernaut. It’s not guarantee but a well-oiled DP team is hard to compete with. If we could live with that we could create Sepp’s dream in a generation. But the whole might suffer. 50K people would watch NY but Columbus might fold and it’d be the NASL all over again.

  32. Diego says:

    As I’ve always suspected, this blogger is on the MLS payroll…FIFA is the regulatory agency of soccer. If you don’t like the system, try to change it from within.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      this was a weird comment. you think ives is an mls company man? and this piece just confirms it for you?

      what did ives say that any objective observer wouldn’t (aside from his kickass last paragraph, maybe)?

      blatter is dead wrong in some cases (“no problem with the future of football” in china), and in others, he’s irresponsibly throwing stuff out there that can’t be backed up (ex. 18 years should be long enough to become a dominant league in the US). that’s no way for the head of fifa, “the regulatory agency of soccer”, to conduct an interview.

  33. Skeeter says:

    Who cares.. the guy is gonna die alone in a hotel room anyway

  34. KenC says:

    When are his comments NOT misguided?

  35. kpgel says:

    1. As much as I hate to say it, he’s not entirely wrong. MLS has made great progress, but it is “still struggling”. As in struggling to compete with the other established sports in this country. Whether it has come far enough fast enough is open to debate, however. And it is still not part of the average sports fan’s consciousness. Not yet anyway.

    2. That said, I agree that he is a dirty, conniving politician and in this case he is probably just kissing China’s arse.

    3. To continue the uncle analogy, he is the uncle that you are embarrassed to have in your family, no less as the alleged patriarch.

    4. Sadly, only his death will rid us of this sort of “leadership”.

  36. The Imperative Voice says:

    If you look at the UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations, Europe is arguably drifting in MLS’ direction of salary rationality. MLS could have been a bigger deal at higher risk if it had ditched caps or had higher limits and encouraged foreign player bubbles and fiscal dice-rolling. It has instead charted a more controlled, slow-growth course that, ironically, UEFA is looking at.

    And then as far as the calendar stuff goes, I wonder if the people pushing for that have played here in a US winter. It reeks of pro-rel and all the other stuff the “philes” want to copy. I think we could fix a thing or two but copying a lot of Europe would be counter-productive, and in some cases they’re looking to us for a smarter approach.

  37. wilyboy says:

    Yes, Blatter is right. There are four other major sports in the US. So clever of him to point that out for us.

    This guy is just covering his ass for Qatar, and setting himself up to give the next World Cup to the next highest paying candidate, China. Blatter would climb into a septic tank to claim a cash load, you think he’d hesitate from roughing MLS for a personal reasons? His comments aren’t an invitation for self reflection, we know that the league is meant for steady growth in a crowded field. It’s not about the US suddenly ditching their interests to root for soccer, it IS about getting current soccer fans to buy into MLS as an entertaining league. When we’re so close to that, why should we listen to the one man who gets paid to ignore us?

  38. Roman Lewandowski says:

    Could someone please elaborate on the MLS/USL talks? How would a potential agreement look?

  39. Rob L says:

    Here’s what I thought when I read this and then watched the interview.

    1. He has no real prespective to view how not only how the league but also soccer in general has grown in this country in that time frame.

    2. This is pretty common of him to say really stupid things so I don’t really pay any attention to what he has to say.

    3. And boy would he really fit in on BigSoccer. LOL

  40. Charles says:

    Suddenly every idiot soccer in the US/MLS hater out there has to be in bed with Sepp.
    Lol.

    I can’t think of a better way to end 2012….laughing my head off into 2013.

    Go Sounders, win CCL and CWC.

  41. Harry Takenapp says:

    Blatter is a gas bag that sucks the oxygen right out of the room he breathes in.

  42. Tobin says:

    The worst thing is Blatter’s presumption that the World Cup in 1994 failed to grow soccer in the United States.

    Success can and should be measured by more than just the domestic league. While I think MLS is growing and will enter the broader public conscience soon(ish) why is that the measuring stick in Sepp’s mind?

    The USA pays more to Sepp’s FIFA for World Cup broadcasting rights than any other country. Read that again. The USA pays more than ANY country in the world to broadcast the World Cup.

    The EPL rights just went to NBC for $250M for three years. Clearly soccer is alive and thriving in America. The domestic league is well attended (Seattle might be somewhat of an outlier but you can not ignore the average 40k+ attendance in 2012) and the only factor that legitimizes MLS criticism is the lacking TV ratings.

    Blatter criticizing the growth of American soccer since the 1994 World Cup while collecting literally a BILLION dollars for future World Cup TV rights in the US is laughable. Remember watching the 1990 World Cup on TV in the US?

  43. 2tone says:

    Just another toolish moment from a blowhard has been. Nothing to see here folks.

  44. Brain Guy says:

    The growth of MLS is a minor miracle given the crowded American sports landscape. The cultural shift that Blatter and others like him wish for will take many decades, if it ever occurs at all. Blatter’s main interests are the same as ever — money and power. He “cares” about American soccer only for the benefit it can generate for him and his minions. In the meantime, we are enjoying a very promising adolescence for MLS, on the way to full maturity.

  45. Todd says:

    Well he is not wrong but he is certainly not right either. No the MLS does not hold the place of reverence in the US mainstream sports consciousness like the great leagues of Europe. No the level of play in the MLS is not on par with those same leagues. No we have not fully capitalized on the massive youth participation in this country.

    I do not believe that soccer will ever become the national game in this country…there just is too much competition with the big three(Basketball, Baseball, Football). This is not likely to change unless salaries escalate and superstars are born. Simply put the hearts and minds of our best athletes have dreams of becoming Lebron James, Eli Manning and Miguel Cabrera and not Landon Donovan, Tim Howard or Clint Dempsey.

    In spite of all that, the sport has grown tremendously in a relatively small time. The league seems to have gotten it right with it’s long term plan. Salaries are increasing, ad revenue is increasing, quality on the field is getting better and attendance has grown. But most importantly the development of youth academies and soccer specific stadiums has progressed. Hiring Klinsi is another step in the right direction…he is preaching team identity….youth development and development of coaching at every level. One of the main reasons we have not seen an explosion in this sport to Blatter’s ideals is that with all the youth participation we lack the coaching ability to teach the requisite technical aspects of the game.

    There isn’t one person who reads this that believes that US athletes are not as physically gifted as the rest of the world players. As fans we have started to catch up…how many websites do each of you check on a daily basis? How many of you think that we should always qualify for the world cup? How many of you feel like we failed as a soccer nation when we didn’t qualify for U-20 WC, U-23 Olympics and losing to Ghana in the 2010 WC?

    We are a third world nation when talking about men’s international soccer but we are at least a developing nation. I do believe that we will be able to compete with the great teams in the greatest tournaments, some day. I do believe that soccer will continue to grow in this country. And I do believe that Sepp Blatter is wrong….but that doesn’t mean he isn’t also right.

  46. TGA says:

    Sepp Blabber or Blather…not sure which…but the guy is clueless. The last place to look for a barometer on soccer in America would be MLS. Actually MLS…has defied all of my expectations…

  47. Very Old Fan says:

    Blather’s (that is not misspelled, look it up) comments are very difficult to put in any context. As one who is even older than he, I remember well when American football was a player’s game much more like real football. When I played over sixty years ago, substitutions were very limited, players were much more versatile (in the course of one season in college, I played every position on the field), typical rosters were 20 to 30 players, one player called the plays in the huddle, we did not have a coach for every position (nor ten referees to discuss every play before making a decision) and most professional players had to have a second job to make a living. Other sports like American football and basketball have limited competition from other countries so they have been able to cater to the wonderful medium of TV and alter their rules to suit the desires of their audiences. The NFL did what is probably one of the finest marketing jobs ever and in so doing every major city feels that they have to have a team. It has resulted in a game of robots managed by a team of coaches who at the end of each season sit down and modify the rules to better please their audiences (I will not attempt to discuss how the sport has destroyed the academic standards of many universities). Now we have a “so called” game where there is lots of scoring matched with lots of time outs so fans (who rarely understand the game) can enjoy trips to the refrigerator between plays. My hope is that the world wide game of football does not fall prey to this type of constant changing of the game.

    • Todd says:

      Isn’t it Blatter? I thought TGA was just being funny. Are you talking about soccer? I don’t think Blatter was talking about how TV has ruined soccer. Please correct if I am wrong, but I thought Ives was talking about Blatter’s slight against the MLS and American Soccer? Your point about American football is well taken but all sports evolve and not always for the better. I actually think the quality of play in soccer has increased during it’s evolution but it has come at a cost. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, who have tremendous ability but that play like actor’s, at the mere glance in his direction he falls to the ground and grabs his ankle. Thankfully there are old school players like Messi to balance the scale in the other direction.

  48. Paul Miller says:

    ESPN runs soccer scores on its bottom banner – both from here and abroad. We’re doing fine. Actually we’re a lot further along than I could have imagined 30 years ago.

    To a ‘football’ advocate elsewhere, it may not seem so, but then that overseas fan or official probably doesn’t understand the degree to which ‘football’ here refers to something truly comparable to EPL in terms of national significance and business interests. And then there’s the national past time, and the game that can be played on small patches of inner-city asphalt…

    Yes, youth soccer is big. It was youth soccer in the 90s that is fueling today’s gains, and today’s youth soccer will allow us to further integrate the game into American fabric over the next 10-20 years. In the 90s, people put their kids in soccer because the equipment costs were less than pretty much any other team sport, the exercise potential was greater than baseball, the injury potential seemed less than football… But those parents had no allegiance to the game. They’d come home from their kids’ games, and turn on the televisions to watch American football, or baseball.

    Mr. Blatter ought to come spend a few days in the halls of our high schools. He’d see the difference. Yes, most high schools have soccer teams. But spend a Friday night under the lights or any night in a packed gymnasium and he’d understand. Those coaches are always looking to pilfer the other athletes who are big enough to play football or tall enough to play basketball, and for a high school boy its a tough proposition to turn down. Football and basketball have cheerleaders, announcers, pep rallies, newspaper coverage, kids wearing their jerseys on game days.

    Soccer games get a handful of parents and girlfriends.

    That’s the reality of the headwinds soccer is developing against in this country. And like I said, it is developing. We’re doing fine.

    • Todd says:

      +1 nicely said

    • Joe+G says:

      I’m not sure I would say *most* US high schools have soccer. There are about 35k high schools in the US and about 12k play boys soccer. Large swaths of the country have next to no high school soccer available.

  49. Wally says:

    There is no question that the business end of MLS is more successful than before. But as a fan of the sport, I am disappointed that the on-field quality has not progressed nearly enough. If given a choice between Mexican league games and the MLS, I’ll watch the Mexican League if my RBNY is not in the MLS game.

    Pains me to say it.

  50. Nico C. says:

    Sexist, racist pig. Very easily sums up Blatter.

  51. MA1 Rodriguez says:

    Blatter isn’t totally wrong, I understand what he is trying to say, but MLS done more good than wrong for USA.

  52. MA1 Rodriguez says:

    South Florida theres tons La Liga, Seria A or EPL jerseys worn by your common soccer fans, and most these fans never knew Fusion existed.

  53. DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

    There are two things that are really offensive about this.

    1. MLS is 8th in the world in average attendance per game. We are ahead of France, Brazil and Argentina, among others. Every country except the top 7 should be offended by what he said.

    2. … inroads in society. This is really offensive on the eve of a Houston Dynamo/MLS/US Soccer rally in Newtown for the kids up there and families affected by that tragedy. Nice timing Septic Bladder.

    • Henry says:

      Ligue 1 in France averages 19k. That avg is brought down by the 3 teams at the bottom of the table that avg below 10k. I don’t think MLS averages 19k.

  54. MA1 Rodriguez says:

    NOTE: MLS isn’t top in U.S. in soccer ratings

  55. Eric K says:

    Maybe Blatter should sit outside in Toronto or Chicago (and not in a box) in mid February for a game and see how much he wants that August-to-May calendar then. Or watch as the NFL and then March Madness obliterates what interest there is in MLS during that time frame. If Sepp Blatter has a problem with what you’re doing, that probably means you’re actually on the right track.

  56. Rey Pygsterio says:

    So when is Sepp Blatter Day in Seattle? Someone needs to take this idiot to a Sounders game.

  57. Scott A says:

    Phuck Sepp Blatter and Phuck Don Garber. Boom. Phuck these suits.

  58. Steve says:

    Sepp wake up we can’t play football in Chicago and Toronto New England and other cities in the winter…..u eurosnob …Mls has positioned itself for major growth u idiot

  59. Hallie says:

    He is the prescient for a reason.