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Milan Insults The American Game


“In the States they look at the commercial aspect. But in Europe transfers are done for technical reasons.

AC Milan VP Adriano Galliani

Oh really Mr. Galliani? This statement could not be further from the truth and is quite frankly an insult to those who have worked tirelessly to take a grassroots game in this country to the recognition it currently enjoys.  These foot soldiers who have made football a prominent feature on the American sporting landscape did it through hard work, fiscal discipline and despite remarkable hostility from the Northeastern based elite sports media.

Over this past summer, Milan made a transfer deal to acquire Ronaldinho from Barca for a sum that at time would have equated to close to $27 million dollars. Almost immediately, the Lombardy club began selling T-shirts and kits with Ronaldinho’s likeness and jersey number. The deal to sign Ronaldinho was never about football: that’s why none of the other purported “big” clubs in Europe went after him. the only other suitor was Manchester City, under Thashkin Shinawatra who was looking for a splashy signing to help his popularity back home in Thailand.

For years Major League Soccer kept costs in check, and rejected the almost constant brow beating of European based agents who looked to get their clients one last big payday in football. One such example is instructive.

Croatia’s Davor Suker won the golden boot at France 98. The next year he decided to leave Real Madrid to pursue a career elsewhere. At the very same time Lothar Matthaeus, Claudio Cannigia, and Gheorghe Hagi were all linked with MLS over the summer of 1999. But none of the four signed that summer (Matthaeus did the following year) even though Suker had advanced negotiations. But MLS was unwilling to pay market value to a player who easily could have been marketed as a contemporary football superstar in America.

Suker signed with Arsenal, and didn’t play much before transferring to West Ham a year or two later. When MLS refused to meet Suker’s contract demands his agent publicaly said he didn’t want the burden of being the centerpiece of football in America. But thr truth is MLS, fiscally prudent and market wise broke off negotiations.

Milan and the other big European clubs spend so much money on transfers and player salaries perhaps they forget that jersey sales and worldwide marketing is what keeps them in business.  By contrast, MLS has taken hits by both the hostile sports media and eurosnobs in the United States for not signing bigger named, more relevant world footballers.

Given this revelation who really is interested in the commercial aspect of the game and who is interested in the technical aspect? For my money Milan is marketing entity while MLS and its partners have worked to grow the quality of play and technical aspects of the sport in the United States. While MLS has strayed from that course slightly in the past three years (through events like Superliga, the marketing of the Mexican National Team via SUM, and the signing of Beckham) throughout most of the league’s history it has been more about football and less about glitz and glamour.

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    February 26, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    STAY OFF AMERICANS, we don’t respect your “soccer” or care what you do to promte SOCCER in your collapsed country. Do we butt in your football, basketball or baseball? No, you missed out from the beggining too late now stay with your “men” sports. Don’t try, leave it to Europe and South America.

    Just playing 🙂

  2. Jezza

    February 26, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Beckham is obvioulsy a money making machine, but having said that, if you took an interest in Serie A, and actually watched any of the Milan games before Beckham arrived compared to the games Milan have played since his involvement, the side has looked much more balanced with a more defensive shape. Milan have an abundance of skillfull, quick players like Pato, Kaka, Ronaldhino, Inzaghi etc…. and even the squad and management team have said having Beckham playing in a deeper, more defensive role to utilize his range of passing and sensible footballing brain has solidified their midifled. Is that not a technical reason?

    You question who is more interested in the technical aspect of football and believe Milan are a marketing entity? That is just ridiculous. I think you need to pay a little more respect to one of the most successful teams ever in world football.

    7 Champions leagues, 17 Serie A titles, 5 Coppa Italia’s, FIFA world club cups…the list goes on…

    Not to mention the numerous Milan players that provided the backbone for Italy winning the World Cup in 06′!!!

    But your right…..they don’t really pay much attention to the technical side of their transfers…!!!!!

  3. Chris B

    February 26, 2009 at 9:06 am

    WSD was saying back when the only reports were between $10-15m

    Actually, it was on yesterday’s show 2/26/09. They seem to feel strongly that MLS are fools if they do not take the three million.

    Bring Becks Back in Chains!!!! Just kidding 😉

  4. Felix

    February 26, 2009 at 2:46 am

    “k its true the mls isnt all about the famous players….but seriously get lost.yout saying Ronaldinho was signed for the money?hes the best player in the world.You have no idea what your talking about mate. ”

    Err… Ronaldinho WAS the best player in the world. He has not been even remotely CLOSE to being the best in the world the past 2 years. His form has fallen greatly and noticeably to the point he is being BENCHED at AC Milan after such a large transfer fee. Sure, sure, Ronaldinho is still Ronaldinho and he can still punish on any given day… no doubt. He just isn’t doing it anymore for some reason and I think he is saturated with the game and is in need of a reboot.

  5. Phillip

    February 26, 2009 at 1:04 am

    WSD was saying back when the only reports were between $10-15m.

  6. Chris B

    February 26, 2009 at 12:36 am

    If Beckham only adds 1,000 fans per game above what ever team is averaging this season when he visits(even to Boo him) then it will be more money to MLS than the 3 million ACM is offering for him. So what if he opts out in November? The league will get its money worth out of him.

    I actually heard WSD making that point that 3mill is all they are getting so they better take it! I did not truly believe that people were actually believing that the Galaxy are obligated to let him go but when I heard that today and then hear MLS fans who do not believe that are the fans hurting the league, I was really shocked. Simple economics says it is a bad deal!

  7. George

    February 25, 2009 at 12:24 am

    ok its true the mls isnt all about the famous players….but seriously get lost.yout saying Ronaldinho was signed for the money?hes the best player in the world.You have no idea what your talking about mate.

  8. Lars

    February 24, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Kartik, don’t kid yourself. The MLS only develops the technical aspect of the game in America (and Canada) because it benefits the bottomline. Competitions like SuperLiga also help this by adding competition to the league, but also by bringing in more money. The more profitable MLS is, the better it is for the talent in the league…

  9. Sticky

    February 24, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    There’s a lot of daylight between 7 million pounds and 3 million dollars. Plus, Lampard does not sell nearly as many jerseys as Beckham – Inter would not get as big a commercial boost from a Lampard as AC Milan would get from Beckham. And in the final reckoning, he didn’t badmouth Chelsea and didn’t end up going to Inter. Seems unlikely that LA would try to keep Beckham at this point.

  10. LI Matt

    February 24, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    I listened today to your podcast with Daniel, where you went on at length about how “insulting” Milan’s offer was. If I may provide a small amount of context:

    Because of the notorious “opt-out clause”, this is essentially Beckham’s walk year. With that in mind, Milan is saying: take this money now, or we’ll wait and sign him a year from now and you’ll end up with nothing.

    You claimed this wouldn’t happen between two European clubs, but in fact it did. Inter offered Chelsea something like £7 million for Frank Lampard — clearly below Lampard’s market value, but backed by the threat of a free transfer the following summer.

  11. Backing Becks

    February 24, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    You are seriously ill.

    I actually enjoyed your posts about Obama and the Conservatives. Insightful, and thoughtful unlike this mindless bash Beckham and Europe stuff. But since you are a Yank you had to cow tow to the yanks. Good writing and insight gets slammed while rubbish like this gets a “that a boy.”

    No wonder I miss home.

  12. Cavan

    February 24, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Kartik, you’re spot on with the exception of all Northeastern media being against soccer, check out the decent coverage of DC United in the Washington Post and the press in Philadelphia . You do have a point about most of the TV media, though.

    The AC Milan executive is just blowing hot air like the big baby that he is. He’s playing a political game in his own country and trying to save face. He’s using the wrong-headed European “conventional wisdom” that the MLS is unprofessional and beneath them as a tool to blow smoke so no one asks the obvious question about why he’s not offering the money required to purchase Mr. Beckham’s contract. The whole thing is sounding more and more like a middle school clique with reporters and fine suits.

    Let them lie their butts off all they want, regardless of how little sense it makes. Usually if someone is trying to convince you that you’re crazy, they’re the one with the problem. In the meantime, I will continue to ignore a professional sporting system from another country that is little more than an excuse for the richest organizations to brutalize everyone else and pretend that it’s a fair competition.

    He’s just another talking head over in Europe who refuses to acknowledge that the path that European club soccer is currently on is financially unsustainable. Upton Sinclair once said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

  13. Chris B

    February 24, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Funny…I actually remember AC Milan boasting that they sold tons of tickets and Ronaldinho gear on the very day he signed and appeared at the San Siro.
    Concern for image rights and shirt sales is soooo MLS bush league stuff! :/

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