Dan Garber is the most dangerous man in the sports world. He has made Major League Soccer the most dangerous league.
It’s not the Saudis with their sportswashing who threaten soccer. They’re paying big money to showcase big names in empty stadiums.
It’s Major League Soccer that is on the verge of destroying the beautiful game.
That’s because, as I noted in May, MLS isn’t run for the fans or the teams but the owners. It’s designed to guarantee profits to every team. It eliminates the risk that makes the game worth living.
Garber’s MLS is everything Europe’s “Super League” promised to be, and more. No more promotion or relegation isn’t the half of it. MLS exerts strict controls over what teams can spend, and shares revenue equally.
Until now most of those profits have come from “franchise fees,” where cities pay up to $500 million to get into the game, with the money being distributed among existing clubs. This year, that means almost $17 million going to each team from San Diego before a ticket is sold or a game is played.
But these profits aren’t trickling down. Instead, at its recent league meeting, Garber decided not to even raise the salary cap at the rate of inflation, to retain obscure salary rules like GAM and TAM, and to keep other teams from even getting a taste of his league’s allure by pulling out of the U.S. Open Cup.
MLS is Socialism for Oligarchs
It’s what Europe’s big clubs now want, and it’s going to destroy soccer as we know it. MLS plays an unbalanced schedule and invests most clubs into an end of season cup tournament, which this year resulted in its 5th and 6th best teams playing for the title.
US Soccer knows just how destructive this is. The US men’s team tells young players “go to Europe,” and rarely has MLS players on the pitch, except during January exhibitions and summer cups played outside recognized international windows.
Soccer only matters when there’s something on the line, when there are severe penalties for failure, and where the ceiling of success is unlimited. MLS’ business model threatens to destroy all that.
FIFA, the world’s governing body, should tell the European and American oligarchs to shove it. Force them to recommit to promotion and relegation. Force it upon MLS, if they want to remain sanctioned as a recognized league. Don’t give in to sports fascism.