Imagine for a minute how an injection of $4 billion in cash could transform the United States into a powerhouse of soccer. The money would give the league the opportunity to compete with teams from China and Europe in the global marketplace to sign players that are in demand at the height of their career. The money also could be used to get rid of the pay-to-play system to allow kids from all levels in the United States a chance to play competitive soccer. Plus, a portion of the funds should be invested to expand the network of scouts across the US to find the next MLS star.
Instead, MLS has stubbornly decided to stick to its principles in order to guarantee that they continue to line the pockets of the investors who — like New England Revolution owner Bob Kraft — began generating a profit within the first five years of his club’s existence, and has in the 16 years since not invested money into growing the New England Revolution by building its own soccer-specific stadium.
Protecting the ownership of MLS is more important to Commissioner Don Garber than growing the game in the United States. By rejecting Riccardo Silva’s gargantuan deal, it keeps the MLS investors happy and completely in control.
In a letter that Silva sent to Garber on July 13, Silva stated:
This is a message that I have repeated over recent weeks in conversation with a number of MLS owners … all of whom share a passion for the growth of soccer in the U.S. I believe that MLS would be the major beneficiaries of an open, meritocratic system because it would stimulate greater fan interest, excitement, quality and engagement in the domestic game. As a result, greater commercial revenues would flow not just to MLS and MLS club owners but also to all tiers of the U.S. soccer pyramid.
While Silva’s aims are self-serving, to generate revenue by reselling TV rights around the world as well as to give his Miami FC team an opportunity to advance to the top-flight league, there’s certainly much to hate about MLS’ rejection of changing the league to make it more successful. Even in the United States, MLS continues to struggle with poor TV ratings as it’s continually eclipsed by much greater viewing numbers for foreign leagues such as Liga MX and the Premier League.