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Blatter, Garber out of touch with American sports fans

FIFA President Blatter’s statement a couple weeks back regarding MLS and its schedule was way out of touch with the reality of the American sporting landscape.  Blatter said it was imperative for MLS to get on an August to May schedule in order to compete with other leagues for the best players.

Not only is there little about the comments that made common sense, but the statements further prove how extraordinary it is that an American-born sports league is being governed by a European-run entity.  A complete rebuke by the commissioner, Garber, would have been appropriate.  But Garber didn’t say anything other than playing an August to May schedule was not likely to happen in the near future.  Garber’s complicity for MLS being governed by FIFA will eventually lead to either his demise or the league’s.

It is a sin that the strongest American pro Soccer league can not lead on its own.  Comments like these recent ones by Blatter and Garber only show that they are completely removed from the reality of the American sports fan. 

Playing from August to May is a ludicrous idea for several reasons and Garber knows this.  He should just come out and say it, but he’s too much of a coward to tell the truth.  Garber won’t tell the whole truth ever as long as FIFA is in charge because he is intimidated and scared.  He doesn’t want to say the wrong thing and lose opportunities for future FIFA tournaments on U.S. soil.  His thinking is that another World Cup here will also bring more fans to MLS. 

Garber keeps playing along, pretending that FIFA has all the answers, when he knows they don’t.  FIFA knows very little about the American sports fan’s expectations. 

Playing with the minds of the fans is not a game. It is a shame that Soccer at the professional level in the U.S. is being run by people with such little courage.

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  1. Potomitan

    July 6, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Niko Kovacs wrote:
    “Well the problem is that FIFA has an international calender: when the international games are played MLS players are in vacation (out of shape) so they won’t play thire best game. Plus when the european players have a transfer window the MLS transfer window is closed.”

    >>> what international calendar? what international games? Last I check most FIFA tournaments that would include the USA happen in the Summer when the MLS is in full swing. And even if that was the case, Russia, Brazil and many other leagues have a calendar that doesn’t follow the Western European standard “August to May”. Notice I said the Western European standard. It has nothing to do with FIFA.
    Where you would have a point is to say the MLS should take those tournament in consideration when coming up with their schedule, to avoid having a bunch of teams playing without their best players.

    Niko Kovacs wrote:
    “The MLS was created because FIFA insisted (when the WC 1994 was handed to USA) so FIFA will make the rules don’t worry. If the La liga or EPL obey Uefa/Fifa rulles I don’t see why the MLS shoudn’t…”

    La Liga and EPL do not follow FIFA rules regarding when they should start and end their seasons for the simple reason that FIFA has no such rule. This was just Blatter giving his opinion about the MLS. It has nothing to do with MLS not following FIFA rules.

  2. Niko Kovacs

    July 6, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Well the problem is that FIFA has an international calender: when the international games are played MLS players are in vacation (out of shape) so they won’t play thire best game. Plus when the european players have a transfer window the MLS transfer window is closed.

    The MLS was created because FIFA insisted (when the WC 1994 was handed to USA) so FIFA will make the rules don’t worry. If the La liga or EPL obey Uefa/Fifa rulles I don’t see why the MLS shoudn’t…

  3. park bolivar

    July 4, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Considering it all, I really don’t know what the ‘problem’ is. Sure Blatter’s right, it may be difficult luring top European talent to the MLS, as per our schedule, but, honestly, I thought MLS was designed to be a league to develop American talent. (Freddie and Temoc, of course, I’ll let slide, and cheer their every goal).

  4. Potomitan

    July 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Really, the schedule is not an issue. The US is not the first and only country to have their league on a different schedule than the top european leagues. Frankly I don’t see why that has to do with FIFA’s game regulations.

    FAI League of Ireland runs from March/April to December.
    The Russians, Swedish, Norwegians, Finnish all start their leagues around March & April.
    Many leagues in the American continents don’t have the same schedule of the top leagues in Europe
    Same thing in Asia (Japan, etc).

    What exactly is the problem?

  5. park bolivar

    July 3, 2009 at 10:36 am


    As for the May-August schedule, there are some unfortunately geographic realities in the United States, but most of those, I don’t really understand. My nearest team is Houston, and currently, it’s 102 Fahrenheit / 38 Celsius there from roughly 8 AM to 8 PM, every single day of June (and it gets steadily hotter until September, when the hurricanes start). Players in the Gulf South of the US would get a reprieve by using a European Schedule.

    Unfortunately, that’s only, really, one team.

    Brazil runs a May-December schedule, Argentina, Mexico, and Costa Rica all run two-part seasons (and honestly, I don’t know much about them).

  6. park bolivar

    July 3, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Harry: Absolute agreement on the FA Cup idea – but the US Open Cup already kinda-sorta works that way, with MLS, USL-1, USL-2, PDL, and USASA. PDL attracts mainly college players, and USASA is the fifth tier, and hence the plumbers, roofers, accountants, and engineers league (or frequently, the church-based, pub-based, or ethnicitiy-based league) and it claims 200-250 thousand players, and the 8 best USASA teams get to play in the US Open Cup.

    But, I think what you’re asking for is the 500-something team tourney, instead of the 40-team US Open Cup. I see that as something that could reasonably develop, but it’d probably take another generation of association football in the US to develop it.

  7. Harry

    July 3, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Oh just another suggestion since Mitch likes out of the box ideas, why doesn’t the MLS introduce a FA cup style competition, if you want to get more fans you have to get in at the local level (everybody should have a local team they have some connection to). Since the US doesn’t have many local teams in league system like England I think we have something like 20+levels ( , please correct me if I’m wrong about the US. US soccer should have a round-robin cup that includes MLS and College/university teams or what ever set up of clubs sits beneath the MLS.

  8. Harry

    July 3, 2009 at 7:45 am

    First its FOOTBALL not soccer. Second as much as I’m not a fan of Sepp Blatter because he has it in for the English PL, Football needs a world governing body. And lets get this right its a world governing body not a European governing body. The confusion is a typical American statement which seems to think football is a European game! I find this article to be very arrogant, why does the US think just because it’s the US it can dictate to a world governing body the rules of football!

    Yeah FIFA might not understand the American Soccer fan but this writer needs to understand football is bigger than America.

    FIFA exists so there is consistency across borders, so countries don’t start putting their own rules into the game, for example the guy who suggested the 10 minute sin bin for a red card, NO!

    Oh I don’t seen a problem with a normal football schedule, just have a break when it gets really cold (as they do in Germany) and/or schedule away games for clubs in colder climates to be played in warmer parts of the country. At the end of the day if you can play the NFL in winter why not Football, as a kid I played football in the snow, that’s what the orange ball is for.

    Finally, the MLS should introduce some kind of relegation; a good relegation battle separates the real fans from the glory hunters! But I suppose having team regarded as a loser wouldn’t be good for making money, which is a real shame.

  9. stop dreaming start action

    July 3, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Agreed Angel.

  10. park bolivar

    July 2, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    And there you have it, Folks. LFC, unable to defend his ridiculous assertion and “internet tough-guy” posturing, gets called on his trolling, and resorts to name-calling.

  11. Liverpool Football Club

    July 2, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    You little sissies. Only sissies like you want to change the name of football to something so f’ing gay. No wonder no one cares about your sport over there, despite your win over Spain. Hahaha, check out what Jim Rome said about the usa’s “accomplishment”. Hahaha, he’s the man.

    The unpopularity of football in the usa is because of sissies like you.

  12. Potomitan

    July 2, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    “@Joe in Indy: You are a hypocrite. You say that it’s beautiful that the game is the same everywhere, yet you don’t call football by the name it’s known as everywhere. Practice what you preach. Call it its appropriate name of football.”

    Go tell that to the folks who gave it the name “soccer”. Oh that’s right it was given that name in England and is still used there mostly by folks who are more into rugby football than soccer football.

  13. Lars

    July 2, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Not only that, but we’ll speak whatever damn version of English we please. Shut up and go back to your island castle.

  14. park bolivar

    July 2, 2009 at 3:47 am

    LFC: ‘Soccer’ is an English word. Invented in England, no less. And you and everybody else here already knew that, so at this point, you’re just trolling.

  15. Liverpool Football Club

    July 2, 2009 at 1:14 am

    park bolivar: They’re not speaking English. You are. Respect the language

  16. park bolivar

    July 1, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    I think it’s fair to call it soccer in the US. Nobody is pissed when the Germans call it “fußball”, the Italians call it “calcio”, the Finns call it “jalkapallo”, or the Vietnamese call it “Bóng ?á”.

  17. Liverpool Football Club

    July 1, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    @Joe in Indy: You are a hypocrite. You say that it’s beautiful that the game is the same everywhere, yet you don’t call football by the name it’s known as everywhere. Practice what you preach. Call it its appropriate name of football.

  18. soccer goals

    July 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Blatter needs to stop hating, and Garber needs to raise the salary Cap.

  19. Potomitan

    July 1, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    “It is a sin that the strongest American pro Soccer league can not lead on its own. Comments like these recent ones by Blatter and Garber only show that they are completely removed from the reality of the American sports fan.”

    Sepp Blatter gave his opinion about something he thinks would take the MLS to the next level; of course if you’re used to reading Blatter’s comment you’ll know he always make comments that are out of touch. He’s not asking them to change their schedule. He can’t. It’s just an opinion. Nothing more nothing less.

  20. Joe in Indianapolis

    July 1, 2009 at 11:08 am

    P.P.S. BTW, to the makers of this site. It would be nice to have an “edit” or “delete” function on comments that I myself have left. I can’t fix my typos!!

  21. Joe in Indianapolis

    July 1, 2009 at 11:06 am

    P.S. I am not suggesting we shouldn’t have our out SCHEDULE. That’s an entirely different issue than the rules of the game. I am mostly replying to the posters here who suggested changes the rules of the actual game itself (i.e. changing the red card rule because you think it’s unfair).

  22. Joe in Indianapolis

    July 1, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Leave FIFA? Are you serious? If MLS left FIFA, lots of people would stop watching for the same reason no one watched when they had “Americanized” rules at the beginning of its existence. Let Americans come to the world game. Your opinion is short-sighted.

    And the comparison to FIBA is ridiculous on so many levels. Basketball was invented in America, and for a long time, was only played in this one area of the world. The United States isn’t used to having governing bodies for sports invented in America. What’s the need? We have our one league. The NFL can regulate American football rules. The NBA can regulate basketball rules. That’s the mindset. But with soccer, every single country plays and America has very little impact on the games’ history. The beauty of soccer is that it is the same everywhere. To reject the international community on this one would be a big mistake. Reminds me of Bush’s foreign policy.

  23. Lars

    July 1, 2009 at 12:13 am

    I’m talking about the red card rule epl

  24. eplnfl

    June 30, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    I wouldn’t be talking about messing with the rules but English football is different from Mexican football and Ireland can have different formats and not be called a poor soccer nation. The snobs will always want to us play the European game when we are not a European country.

    Do we make them play NBA rules in basketball, no nor do we suggest that their game is inferior because the rules are different. America has it’s own sporting traditions that must be respected by all sports. America has it’s TV audience likes and dislikes that must be adhered too. America has it’s environmental and geographic factors that must be taken into consideration.

  25. Lars

    June 30, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Agreed Angel. Don’t mess with the rules any more than they have been!

  26. Angel

    June 30, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Ohh my god I better get off this website when people are trying to Americanized Soccer, No wonder noone is going to take us seriously in the world of FOOTBALL. Please this game has played from more than 100 yrs and want to change the red card rule. and Mitch is just trying to write a book and make money of people that don’t know of football the real game. Not American Football. Please Americanize give me a break. We have our guys playing their guts to be recognized and respect all over the world and them u guys talk about Americanize soccer. MLS instead of going up is going way don’t. SAD DAY FOR ME

  27. Adam from joliet

    June 30, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    FIBA is not a good example, because it was created after basketball was invented and established in the US. FIFA, however, has governed the world’s game for some time now while the MLS is still in startup mode. What good would it do to rebuke the president? To simply nod your head and not make the changes, as Garber is doing, is just as good.

  28. eplnfl

    June 30, 2009 at 8:07 pm


    Hate to disagree but I have spent time in( limited) in your fair city and other parts of Texas and even being in a tropical storm in Houston does not compare with with -21 temp and a wind chill I can’t talk about. The split season does not really solve the problem unless your going to just have the two winners face off in a championship game. That is because any extended playoffs would be next to impossible.

  29. Brian Zygo

    June 30, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    I currently live in Houston, but I’ve also lived in northern Wisconsin, and I can say the summers in Houston suck as much as the winters up there (of course Chicago seemed tropical to us in January). I have two words on the season issue:


  30. mindthegap

    June 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    When the Russians, Scandinavians, or Japanese get beaten 3-0 after losing 3-1, Blatter probably would give them some advice. If the USMNT gets distroyed, we’re going to hear suggestions — simple as that. At any rate, you have to admit his focus is correct: if the USMNT is to move to the next level, the MLS is going to be key.

  31. Lars

    June 30, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Really, it’s just a matter of scheduling on non-international dates. I think Blatter’s concerns are that FIFA is losing money if it’s competing with MLS in North America for TV attention and slots. His job is to make money for FIFA and make sure it’s run smoothly.

    He’s right on that matter. MLS just hasn’t figured it out yet. But switching to a winter schedule or opening/closing fall/spring schedule is sheer insanity.

  32. Sam

    June 30, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Dave, you call us namby-pambies, i live near toronto, a game anywhere near the winter is ludicrous, it colder here than chiocago, and we get more snow, do you want to see players running around in 2-3 feet of snow, its hard to play football in this weather much less soccer,

  33. eplnfl

    June 30, 2009 at 11:44 am


    Drag yourself up to Chicago during our winter which may last through spring and you won’t be calling anyone namby-pambies. I froze my rear off at the Fire opener this year. You may recall that was two weeks into the season.

    No one wants to see players lost to international matches and MLS does need to think about a week off during them and putting make-up games mid-week.

  34. Dave

    June 30, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Yeah, what’s the problem? Blatter pointed out a casual desire to see the US on the same schedule as everybody else and Garber said it wouldn’t happen. How does this not please you?

    Furthermore, I think there are quite a few fans in the USA who would LOVE to see an August to May soccer schedule. I, for one, hate seeing my team (Houston) stripped of half its talent for the entire summer. And I happen to live in a place where the weather is better in winter than in summer.

    I realize Houston is an exception there, but there might just be a way to make it work, with a clausura/apertura style format, where the league bifurcates into an August-December and March-May league. Or with a Bundesliga-style 5-6 week break between Christmas and late January (it’s cold in Germany, too, but they manage…).

    Then, you namby-pambies up north won’t have to sit in the snow very often and we can all watch ALL of our stars at all times. And the 2010/2014/2018/2022 MLS seasons wouldn’t be totally compromised by the world cup (when even ardent MLS fans tend to shift their soccer attention to the WC, at the expense of the MLS).

    You may not like the idea, but for Garber to not at least give it consideration is foolish, and close-minded. So lighten up and let him do his job.

  35. The Great Attila

    June 30, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Someone already mentioned the whole “tell that to Russia and Scandinavia” thing so I won’t mention that. Baltter should realize just what MLS would compete with if they went to the “normal” schedule. At least with the summer schedule, MLS only really competes with baseball (which probably will never again reach its previous heights of popularity, and the steroids), NASCAR (which is basically WWE on wheels and is slowing losing its popularity), and the WNBA (and who watches, or will admit to watching, women’s basketball?). MLS will never, EVER be able to match the NFL (too much money made, and it IS the American national sport), NBA, and NHL (at least in Canada). Someone in the league should have had the cojones (sp.) to say something in response.

  36. Chris Nee

    June 30, 2009 at 4:29 am

    Doesn’t that picture just say it all?

    Mitch, regardless of the rights and wrongs of Blatter’s comments – or Garber’s credentials as commissioner – it’s important for Garber not to fight FIFA toe-to-toe over this. I think in this instance a diplomatic brush-off was the right response.

  37. Mitch Howard

    June 30, 2009 at 3:34 am

    FIBA is also a governing body, but for basketball. And the NBA does not play with a trapezoid court nor answer to FIBA at all on any level. For other questions, please see Americanizing Soccer parts 1-6.

  38. Mitch Howard

    June 30, 2009 at 3:31 am

    Your red card idea is a great one. You are thinking outside the box. You are being practical. I have written other articles, Americanizing Soccer…up to part 6, I think, you may want to look at these in reference to your question. I have plans to write many more parts on this topic. Cheers.

  39. Jammer

    June 30, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Agree that such a stupid statement deserves a public rebuke.

    I would like it if they would change a red-card to a 10 minute power play only. When I watch a red card game, I always leave disappointed that I didn’t see a fair game. MLS would have to leave FIFA to accomplish a rule change like that.

    What are the other practical advantages and disadvantages of existing under FIFA?

  40. Lee

    June 29, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Why did you even bother writing this down, Mitch? While I basically agree with your premise, your major accusation (Garber’s complicity for MLS being governed by FIFA will eventually lead to either his demise or the league’s) is fairly ludicrous and not at all backed up or even explained.
    While based in Europe, FIFA is a world governing body, and for all of its faults, I do believe that the global game of soccer needs overseeing that does what it can to keep the game on the same page worldwise, as much as possible (not very easy obviously).

  41. Lars

    June 29, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Obviously not.

  42. Juan-John

    June 29, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    The real question is, has Blatter said the same thing about the Russian/Scandinavian/Japanese leagues?

  43. Lars

    June 29, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    We should just ignore the issue. If the average fan doesn’t care about it, then nothing will happen. If Garber decides he wants to implement it, then we go apeshit on him. Stop talking about it and it goes away.

  44. Fan

    June 29, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    So Don Garber or the league will fail because he doesn’t go apeshit on Blatter? What purpose would it serve if he told Sepp off except to make you feel better? That’s just absurd, kindergarten-style thinking. Then again, that’s the level of “analysis” it takes to write for this site so I shouldn’t be surprised.

  45. eplnfl

    June 29, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Why should we even discuss this issue any longer. Sepp or anyone else that wants to schedule a soccer match in January or February is out of touch with reality. Figure it out Sepp visit frozen Lake Michigan when the air temp is -10F like last winter and about 2 feet of snow on the ground.

    Please no more posts seriously talking about a winter schedule. All it is a a way for the European teams not to share talent with MLS and keep people from having two seasons, like a Donovan or Beckham.

    Now a serious discuss should be had how MLS must adjust it’s schedule to the needs of the USMNT. Fans deserve for the money they are paying to see a Donovan or Ching or Casey as the case maybe. Some adjustment must occur not to rob the fans from the great players who will be off for extended periods on national call ups.

    America has influence in the soccer world now lets use it!

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