The Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast, required listening among many soccer fans around the world, was very dismissive of Major League Soccer earlier this week on their Thursday Extra edition.
One of the questions from a Football Weekly listener was read on air. The person asked why there had been no mention of the start of the new Major League Soccer season. Sean Ingle, sports editor of The Guardian’s online site, replied to the question by stating”
“Well, we are an English-based pod and we try and cover the big leagues. MLS, as of yet, is not really a big league.”
To make matters worse, a few minutes later Ingle and his colleagues spent a few minutes discussing a complete non-soccer story, the planned unveiling of a Michael Jackson statue at Fulham’s Craven Cottage.
The comment by Ingle is a slap in the face to MLS. I’d be interested in finding out what, in Ingle’s view, MLS would have to do to become “a big league.” The league already features several marquee players such as David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and Landon Donovan, among others. These are players that Premier League clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and West Ham United have tried to sign in the last two years. In addition to that, MLS is making great progress in the CONCACAF Champions League.
I find Ingle’s statement that MLS is “not really a big league” puzzling. How does he measure that? Is it by the interest level or page views on MLS articles on his Guardian website? If so, The Guardian currently gives MLS such scant coverage that it seems unfair. Interestingly, in a recent interview, Ingle said that the majority of visitors to The Guardian’s sports section come from the United States. While Ingle excuses the lack of MLS coverage on his pod by saying it’s not really a big league, the podcast still somehow finds time to talk about the Brazilian league, leagues in Eastern Europe, Scottish Premier League and Irish football.
I imagine that the real answer may be the British media’s lack of interest and knowledge about Major League Soccer. It may be their perception that MLS is not really a big league, but that perception may be in their minds rather than in facts.
Whatever the reason, I believe Ingle’s comment says all you need to know about how much importance The Guardian places on a fast and growing league.